Showing posts with label Hurricaine/ Storm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hurricaine/ Storm. Show all posts

September 23, 2018

One Year After The Situation in Puerto Rico is Untenable


             SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—
Puerto Rico se levanta. It’s become something of an official motto among officials on the island, draped across buildings and making its way into press releases and speeches. 
It captures an optimistic and hopeful feeling, one a world away from mainland America’s posture toward the island, which vacillates between indifference and sensationalism. The best English translation is probably “Puerto Rico is rising,” but a few others might do as well. Puerto Rico rises. Puerto Rico raises itself. Puerto Rico is waking up. 
But a full year after the destruction of Hurricane Maria—with blue tarps as ubiquitous on the island as the se levanta slogans and the murals declaring fuerte—just what do “rising” and “waking up” really mean? 
Thursday marks the tragic anniversary of one of the most deadly disasters in American history, and somber vigils and actos ecuménicos across Puerto Rico will mark it as such. The subtext of each event is the push and pull of grief and hope, a battle between past and future, a struggle between colony and colonizer, a complicated relationship between a diaspora and home, and an unresolved mix of questions about status and citizenship.

What have we learned since Hurricane Maria? Most of the attention in the past few weeks has been focused on how to quantify the damage done by the storm and its aftermath. That discussion took on a heated, partisan character when President Donald Trump disputed the estimate, rendered by academic researchers, that almost 3,000 people died as a result of the storm. 

His dispute—and that of the praetorian guard of pundits dedicated to preserving his presidency—is not one rooted in facts or even in goodwill toward the Puerto Rican people, but in dismissal and negligence. The number makes the federal government look bad, so it must be a hoax, or the result of poor conditions on the island before the storm, or a poor response from Puerto Rican authorities long after.

It’s a self-contradictory argument, but one that, above all else, denies any kind of federal responsibility. 

According to Trump, the federal government’s response was monumental and historical, but was somehow also hampered by the fact that Puerto Rico is a five-hour flight away from Washington, D.C. 

In his telling, that response is what kept the island from enduring a fate similar to Louisiana and other states in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Katrina.But the truth is that the federal government’s reaction was deeply inadequate, and likely led to hundreds or perhaps thousands of deaths.

 A report released by Trump’s own Federal Emergency Management Agency even outlines some of the ways in which the response was lacking.

 The report found that local stores of emergency supplies in federal warehouses in Puerto Rico were all but nonexistent, and that many of the agency’s critical staff were deployed elsewhere during the early stages of Hurricane Maria.

 Federal communications were a mess, making it difficult to get a handle on the true scope of the damage or marshal resources to the worst-hit areas, and leading to logistics logjams in the provision of emergency goods. 

Outside reporting from Frontline and NPR has found even more worrying deficiencies in the federal response, including a critical lack of planning, a misunderstanding of the island’s fragile electric grid, and a contracting process during the response phase that was wanting, to say the least.

 There is no reading of fema’s response, official or otherwise, that indicates that it was as swift or efficient as it was after mainland disasters like Hurricane Harvey in Texas.But the responsibility for Maria’s aftermath doesn’t just rest with the federal government, either. 

Puerto Rico’s vulnerable electricity grid and its weak critical infrastructure were almost entirely destroyed by the storm, and the story of how they got so weak is one that involves authorities on the island and federal lawmakers from both parties. Then there’s the financial crisis that wracked the island, and the Puerto Rico Power Authority’s financial troubles, which left the territory with a power grid that was a strong storm away from complete collapse. 

The fact is that last year, Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck an island that was uniquely fragile, in political and financial turmoil, and probably in the worst shape possible for a major disaster.The ongoing question of responsibility is still being sorted out in the territory. 

Multiple levels of government have been involved in Puerto Rico’s restoration, as well as its political struggle for power within the United States. 

A federal oversight board, implemented by Congress two years ago and signed into law by President Obama, is technically in charge of major fiscal decisions on the island, and as such was the major player in a recent decision to privatize Prepa. But it still exists uneasily alongside the official elected government on the island, led by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, and the two have often clashed on infrastructure and finance, among other matters.

Under the direction of the oversight board, the island has embarked on an austerity program, which includes slashing public assistance and government support to municipalities and institutions like Puerto Rico’s robust university system, as well as major cuts to public education and a massive slate of school closings. 

In a post-Maria world, the goal of this program is essentially to starve off the informal economy and massive public sector that have developed over time in Puerto Rico , and replace them with a robust formal tourism industry and private developers, all buoyed by an influx of credit from mainland investors. But that program has highlighted another rift within the territory, one in which public-sector employees and students are naturally squeezed and now find themselves often in protest. 

 Even as those tensions heighten within the increasingly complicated social and political structures within Puerto Rico, rebuilding is still taking place. After eight months in the dark for some citizens, most of the power grid is back in place. 

It’s still fragile, and still faces outages during storms in some areas, but the deafening hum of generators that characterized the island’s metropolitan areas after Maria is no longer. Most of the critical roads are repaired, and the hospitals are in no worse condition than they were before the storm. 

Tourism is back—and this week especially, Rosselló has made a show of entertaining visitors—even though some of the signature hotels in San Juan and Old San Juan still haven’t been rebuilt.

Officials within the tourism industry have decried news coverage of dysfunction and destruction in favor of a narrative that highlights strong recovery. 

“Six months after Hurricane Maria hit, more than fifty percent of travelers said media coverage negatively impacted their view of Puerto Rico as a destination and we’re hoping to change that as the one year anniversary approaches,” said Brad Dean, the CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, a new nonprofit created to promote tourism, in a press release earlier this month.Still, it’s hard to visit Puerto Rico and not see that the recovery is incomplete, perhaps even hollow in some places. 

The blue tarps covering roofs are so common that they are visible on the flight into San Juan. Municipalities far away from the bustle of the capital still lag behind in rebuilding, only compounding the miseries of rural, poorer residents that existed before the storm. As Kathy Gannett, a resident of Vieques, a small island off the eastern coast, told me, most of the population there still has “great needs for housing, health services, sustainable energy, jobs, ferry service, and mental-health services.”
One of the most difficult problems for the island to deal with is the fact that so many people have left it. According to an analysis released Thursday by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York, almost 200,000 people have departed for the mainland in the year since the storm. 
That’s a steep drop of about 6 percent from the total population of roughly 3 million people, and it’s on top of the half million residents who left in the 12 years before Maria. According to Edwin Meléndez, the center’s director, the exodus of Puerto Ricans to the mainland “is an indication of stagnant conditions on the island and the impatience of the population with the governmental responses at all levels.”
Those numbers get to the heart of the problem in Puerto Rico, one that exists beyond Trump’s government, and one that Maria exposed rather than created. It’s that the political and economic situation of the island is untenable, and that the old specter of colonialism is more and more unbearable.
As people continue to leave, the disaster of Hurricane Maria is still exerting its influence, and the political questions of how to truly confront the catastrophe and its root causes are in front of the island and its diaspora—not behind them. 
A year is not enough time to measure the scale of a disaster as massive as Maria. The effects on local and federal politics alone will reverberate through future elections. The effects on the economy of Puerto Rico have only just begun, and it increasingly looks like the hurricane marks an epochal shift in the nature of the relationship between the island and the broader United States. Puerto Rico se levanta, but exactly where it will rise is still a mystery.
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San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulín Ortiz Sharply Blames Trump For The Astronomical Death Rate From Maria

Puerto Rico's mayor of San Juan has sharpened her attacks against Donald Trump, blaming his administration for "structural negligence" that led to thousands of deaths in the wake of Hurricane Maria. 
Carmen Yulín Cruz said the president was responsible for the federal government’s slow response to the deadly hurricane estimated to have killed nearly 3,000 people, during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on the one-year anniversary of the storm. 
"This is President Trump’s Katrina," the mayor said, referring to the catastrophic hurricane that struck the US in August 2005. "He can spin it all he wants — 3,000 people died on his watch." 
Ms. Cruz has frequently criticised Mr. Trump ever since Hurricane Maria’s impact was felt across the US territory, while the president has said he earned a "10 out of 10" for his government’s disaster recovery efforts. He's also denied the revised death count from the storm of 2,975, claiming the study commissioned by the Puerto Rican government was a conspiracy created by Democrats to make him "look bad". 
Trump in North Carolina brings pizza and food...  But Trump has to be Trump: He Tells the people in the car "have a good time". Sure they will, at least is not paper towels like in San Juan.
The mayor's latest comments arrived shortly after the deadly Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas, Virginia and other parts of the country. Mr. Trump traveled to impacted regions during the week after warning that the storm would be "tremendously big and a tremendously wet" hurricane.
The president was restrained during his visit to North Carolina on Wednesday, serving as consoler-in-chief while touting the storm's damage.  
Ms Cruz added, "Today, 3,000 Puerto Ricans opened their eyes, and because they didn't have insulin, they didn't have appropriate medical care, they didn't have dialysis, and they didn't have access to their medication, they died."
The president has sparred directly with Ms. Cruz, who previously told The Independent that he has personally attacked her "just out of spite".  
In one instance, the mayor was invited to participate in a White House conference call to discuss relief efforts, only to be reportedly be told not to speak. 
He’s also mocked her on Twitter and in multiple speeches, describing Ms. Cruz as the “incompetent mayor of San Juan”

September 14, 2018

Carmen YulÍn Cruz Small in Size But A Giant as San Juan Mayor in PR and Savior of Lives

 Meet Carmen Yulin Ortiz "El Pitirre" de San Juan  El Pitirre is a bird that never stops flying, singing, nest building

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s debut on the world stage was unforgettable. “We are dying here,” Cruz said in a Sep­t. 29, 2017, press con­fer­ence after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and a slow, inadequate response from the U.S. federal government compounded the disaster. “So I am done being po­lite.”
Cruz, now 55, was bold and defiant. But it was far from the first time. Five years before she found herself standing up to President Donald Trump, Cruz, whose remarkable journey to power is the subject of this week’s episode of Breaking Big, airing at 8:30 p.m. EST Friday on PBS, was challenging another giant — one of Puerto Rico’s most established political bosses — in order to win her current job. 
Puerto Rican society, including its political life, remains defined by a machismo culture that can make it daunting for women to pursue their dreams and ambitions. As Cruz tells OZY’s editor-in-chief Carlos Watson, “If a man raises his voice in the Congress, he’s being vocal. You are being hysterical.” 
And in San Juan, the embodiment of that machismo culture for years was its mayor, Jorge Santini, a bombastic political strongman with slicked-back hair who ruled over the island’s capital for 12 years and had a reputation for wasting public money on extravagant projects. Cruz, a graduate of universities like Boston University and Carnegie Mellon, returned to Puerto Rico in the early 1990s to start her own career in politics, working under Sila María Calderón, Santini’s predecessor as mayor of San Juan and the first woman to become governor of Puerto Rico. Cruz ran for office herself in 2008, winning a seat in the Puerto Rico House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.
Four years later, the candidate from Cruz’s Popular Democratic Party had to drop his challenge to Santini when he became embroiled in a controversy over domestic abuse. The party was scrambling to find a last-minute replacement — but nobody wanted to challenge the powerful Santini, already serving his third term in office. Well, almost nobody. “So I’m saying, ‘Pick me. Pick me. I want to do it,’” says Cruz. “Well, my party had meetings and meetings and was like, ‘Anybody but Yulín.’ And finally, there was nobody left.”  So Cruz got her shot. Nobody thought she had a chance against Santini. “I went to talk to her and said, ‘Listen, are you sure you want to do this? There’s no possibility that you’re going to win this election,’” says Charlie Hernandez, an attorney and the former majority leader of the island’s House of Representatives. “And she said, ‘I know I can win, and I will win.’” Cruz’s campaign director, Cesar Miranda, says she started with just two people on her campaign and zero money. But after watching Cruz in action, it was clear to Miranda and other political veterans that they had a candidate who would not require much polishing. “We said, ‘Let’s not touch this woman. She’s a wildflower. You don’t touch wildflowers.’”
Santini, known as “the Hawk,” mocked his opponent’s gender and experience on the trail, addressing her not by her name but as “esa señora” (“that woman”). Running on a platform of inclusion and change — and building a coalition of students, women and LGBTQ voters — the under-5-foot-tall Cruz billed herself as “La Pitirre,” a tiny but aggressive bird (the gray kingbird) that is the subject of a well-known saying on the island: A cada guaraguao le llega su pitirre (“Every hawk has its pitirre”). Wearing a red bandanna like a political revolutionary, Cruz took to the streets, launching a grassroots campaign dedicated to job creation, transparency, the needs of the poor and connecting with everyday Puerto Ricans. “She can convince. She can talk to people,” says Hernandez. “She is a political monster because she can find a way to do things, to convince the people.” 
And on Nov. 6, 2012, Cruz pulled off a David-beats-Goliath victory over the once-mighty Santini, beating him by around 6,000 votes. “The girl triumphed over the hawk” read San Juan’s El Nuevo Día the following day. “Our machismo culture in Puerto Rico resists a strong-willed, smart woman like [Cruz]; of course they do,” says Hernandez. “I’m still amazed at the way she did it.”
The day of her inauguration, Cruz ditched her red bandanna for an all-white outfit meant to send the message that with her at the helm, the residents of San Juan would be getting a clean slate. But, as San Juan realized when Hurricane Maria hit, a fresh start does not mean that Cruz fights any less hard than the men who have traditionally ruled the island. “I fight like a man,” says La Pitirre herself. “And I’m telling you this in the machismo context: I’ll give it to you as hard as you give it to me.”

September 13, 2018

No Water in Puerto Rico Meanwhile FEMA Forgot They Had 20,000 Pallets of Battled Water Stacked Away

20,000 pallets of bottled water left untouched in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico

By Bill Weir, CNN

Ceiba, Puerto Rico (CNN)The stockpile of bottled water stretches down an unused runway in Ceiba. Case after case, pallet piled upon pallet, blue tarps and plastic glinting in the sun. 
The emergency supplies were brought in by FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which smashed the island and left its residents without power, without roofs and without running water. 
Federal officials commandeered the area in the far east of the island last fall as a staging ground, collecting the water and containers full of blue tarps to patch damaged and destroyed roofs in surrounding neighborhoods. 
And there the supplies sat. And sat. Storm survivors were collecting spring water from the mountains for cooking and bathing, even with the threat of disease that brought

 Without running water at home, many people resorted to collecting supplies from mountain springs and streams, as here in Las Marias last October.

The water -- destined for communities in need -- will now be returned to FEMA, an official says.

    September 9, 2018

    The GOP Shut Down The Maria Investigation Dems Could Only Yell Because GOP Controls Washington

    House Democrats released a scathing report Thursday accusing Republicans of shutting down efforts to investigate the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
    House Republicans are trying to “insulate President Trump and his aides from scrutiny,” according to the report prepared by Democrats on the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform. Committee leaders received some documents they requested from the Department of Homeland Security, but leaders have refused to subpoena requested documents and emails that the Trump administration is still withholding; they’ve refused to ask for a single record from the White House, according to the report. A spokesperson for Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) did not reply to Vox’s request for a response to these claims.
    The committee has scheduled only one full hearing to analyze the Trump administration’s response to the deadliest natural disaster in modern US history, which happened nearly a year ago.
    Trump maintains that his team did a “fantastic job” in Puerto Rico, even after the death toll reached 2,965 — eclipsing the 1,100 deaths linked to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 
    The response is in stark contrast to Congress’s reaction to the last deadly hurricane. After Katrina hit, Republican leaders on the committee held nine hearings about the federal response and obtained more than 500,000 documents from President George W. Bush’s administration. Within five months, the committee had prepared a 569-page report outlining the government’s failures — and potential improvements — in responding to the disaster.
    This time around, Republicans on the committee appear, at best, uninterested in holding the government accountable for its response. The report from Democrats reveals deep frustration with the process. 
    “Unfortunately, over the past year, Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and other House Republicans failed to conduct a credible, fact-based investigation of what went wrong and who was responsible. Instead, the Republican response was to insulate President Trump and his aides from scrutiny, wall off the White House from criticism, shut down key aspects of congressional oversight, and disregard the lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina,” they stated in the report, titled “A Failure of Oversight.”

    What Democrats wanted

    Democrats have been trying to get emails related to Hurricane Maria from top Trump administration officials, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, and FEMA Administrator Brock Long. They also wanted to see emails between the White House and federal agencies. 
    Gowdy did get about 20,000 documents from FEMA and DHS leadership, but Democrats wanted much more. They wanted Gowdy to use his subpoena powers to force the administration to turn over everything they asked for, just as the committee did after Katrina. Gowdy refused.
    The report highlights a few examples:
    • The committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands sent a letter asking Gowdy to subpoena the Department of Homeland Security to produce documents FEMA was withholding, related to the agency’s failure to provide tens of millions of emergency meals to hurricane victims. Gowdy declined, according to the report, and Republicans blocked all efforts to call a vote. 
    • Cummings and Plaskett requested another subpoena based on new information indicating that FEMA failed to respond to emergency requests from supermarkets seeking fuel for generators. Walmart and other grocery stores ended up throwing out tons of meat, produce, and dairy products because they couldn’t keep them refrigerated. Gowdy declined to subpoena the agency, according to the report. 
    • Cummings asked Gowdy to subpoena the Department of Defense for documents the department was allegedly withholding, including records related to the government’s emergency medical response in Puerto Rico. Cummings was concerned about reports that a Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, sailed around Puerto Rico for days without docking and that helicopters were unable to land on the ship. Gowdy declined these requests too, the report states. 

    Republicans were much more responsive after Katrina

    In their report, House Democrats made the case that Gowdy’s refusal to investigate the disaster response is unprecedented — even reckless.
    When Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Republicans controlled the White House and the US House of Representatives. But politics didn’t stop the Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee at the time, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), from conducting a thorough investigation of President George W. Bush’s handling of the disaster.
    Within five months of the hurricane, Davis held nine committee hearings, conducted multiple interviews, and received dozens of briefings from federal officials. Davis requested documents from the White House, the vice president’s office, and multiple federal agencies. When Bush officials refused to hand over emails, Davis used the committee’s subpoena powers to force them. In the end, the committee received about 500,000 pages of documents, including 22,000 pages from the offices of the president and vice president.
    After the five-month investigation, Davis published a 569-page report blasting the Bush administration, state governments, and several contractors for failing to learn from past disasters.
    The committee’s aggressive investigation of Katrina is in sharp contrast to the lack of action post-Maria. 
    Democrats say Gowdy has scheduled only one full committee hearing, which will happen this week. Committee members received only three briefings from federal agencies, and Gowdy refused to request documents from the White House. He then blocked all attempts by Democrats to hold a vote on whether or not to subpoena records that Cummings requested from the White House, according to the report.
    “As a result of these decisions, the Committee was unable to adequately investigate key questions about the Trump Administration’s response, such as the delay in appointing a commanding general, the apparent lack of presidential engagement and direction, the failure to lead a coordinated response, and the wavering commitment to recovery and rebuilding,” the report states.
    If it’s true that Republicans on the committee were trying to quash the investigation, then they got what they wanted.

    September 3, 2018

    NY Governor Mario Cuomo Suing Pres.Trump For Falling to Provide Adequate Help to Puerto Rico

    On Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that NY would be suing President Trump for failing to help the people of Puerto Rico following the devasting effects of Hurricane Maria.
    According to the New York Post, Cuomo made the announcement while speaking at Heavenly Vision Christian Center, a church in the Bronx, calling Trump’s actions in regards to the hurricane an abandonment of the people of the American Commonwealth. 
    “Somebody has to stand up to this president. He is a bully,” Cuomo said while speaking about the poor federal response Puerto Rico’s people received. 
    Puerto Rico mistreated
    “They got a different level of care than Texas and Florida and other states,” Cuomo said after stating that President Trump really “never tried” to help victims who lacked food and shelter following the September 2017 storm.
    “You know how they handle a bully in The Bronx? He puts a finger your chest, you put one right back.”
    “We’re going to hold ‘King’ Trump to the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution said equal protection under the law. Puerto Rico did not receive equal protection under the law,” Cuomo continued while addressing the church attendees.

    NY to sue President Trump

    “We are going to sue President Trump. We are going to show this bully president that the law is the law.”
    NYC to sue President Trump
    Cuomo’s vow to sue President Trump comes after the leader’s comments last Wednesday and the staggering death poll of more than 2,900 people, a fact that took months to come to light.
    Meanwhile, President Trump told reporters at the White House last week that he thinks his administration “did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico.” Adding, “We’re still helping Puerto Rico.”
    If You are  asking why isn't the Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico suing instead?
     Would it not be more proper?
    Puerto Rico's Governor belongs to the same party as Trump and all along he has been very timid in criticising Trump, which he has never done. In assigning fault this Governor is second from the President on down. He colluted with Trump; Wether is been the deal with WhiteFish to make a law maker in Washington DC happy, wrong death count which he confirmed a couple times or not asking for more emergency help for certain areas that were just sinking under the waters of this hurricaine. He left the dirty work for the Mayor of San Juan, Carmin Yulín Cruz. I would bet you that if this legal action makes it to a court, Tump will use Ricardo Rosselló as a reason he did what ever the governor asked for and the Governor never complaint personaly to him.  This excuse wont work for Trump though because Trump is had the correct information from the Corps of Engineers, FEMA (whose statement rsenttly said they made mistakes and could have done better) without mentioning the 3000 deaths like he did for the first 11 deaths; The military was there and told Trump how bad things were but he still pulled them out becore the work was even half way done. Still last week He (Trump)said he was proud of the work he did
    I have personally seen Governor Cuomo pick a particular issue that was wrong as he promised to fix. He would go all the way putting all his political chips on the table until he made a difference. The New York gay marriage issue comes in mind. He didn't have the vote and  he needed republicans to win the vote and the Republican party promised that any legislator that voted with the Dems will be voted out of office and eventually some did but Cuomo got Gay Marriage in NY State long before the Supreme Court did in Washigton DC. He kept the promise.

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