Many of you know that I have been working to help Puerto Rican relief efforts locally. Some of you have seen the conflicting reports from the ground including from Mayor Cruz of San Juan which is in the best shape of getting supplies, while the Governor and other Mayors have been praising the efforts. Here is what I have found out from all sources including citizens, local government, military, FEMA, and news.
The Puerto Rican/Virgin Island Relief effort has been the most complex relief effort in American history. It has been pretty successful so far. Compared to Katrina, Maria hit as a CAT 5 Katrina it the Gulf Coast as a CAT 4, NO as a CAT 3. Katrina resulted in 1800 Americans dead. So far we have 16 people dead out of 3.5 million. Both had ports and airports damaged hampering efforts. Power was down and communications out. In Katrina, we trucked supplies in, National Guard and military bases were repaired and help flown in. In Maria, the Navy had to repair the seaport and the National Guard, Core of Engineers and others repaired the air ports. NO ABILITY TO TRUCK ANYTHING IN EXISTS. In Maria, Irma already harmed the infrastructure less than 2 weeks before.
FEMA has is coordinating 13,000 Federal responders. They have given fuel to 700 of 1100 gas stations. 99% of the telecommunications were destroyed. 1/3 of the telecommunications is back up. The Power Grid was a total loss, but emergency power is being restored to critical infrastructure. It is 5% up. 4.4 million meals are distributed a day. The U.S, Air Force delivered over one million pounds off supplies just Friday and that is continuing day by day. Remember that first they had to repair the runways, towers, etc. Over the past few days Dover alone has delivered over a quarter million pounds of aid.
It is not just the FEDS doing good work. The local governments stepped up along with the National Guard and saved thousands of lives. They are fatigued from Irma but still keep pushing. They have been going for 3 weeks straight with back to back storms. Supplies that were there from Irma were damaged. They just restored power for most people from Irma. Now everything was wiped out. The system was bad before due to a lack of investment in it.
Samaritan’s purse is taking advantage of the newly open airports and is flying aid in. Yesterday, they were able to resupply. The Salvation Army is on the ground working. The Red Cross is helping. Many local charities are working their hearts out. The problem is the scope of the disaster and it requires constant readjustment. The Governor has stepped up and moved beyond politics. This effort is a qualified success, but very tenuous. The mountain range and rain common at this time of year is making access very difficult to more remote areas.
Please pray for the people on the ground. Today’s long awaited Presidential visit should place a needed spotlight on this greatest of American humanitarian challenges.