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

September 9, 2019

The Caribbean is Becoming Another Shooting Range For Social Injustice

The eye of Hurricane Dorian. Image by Cayobo, CC BY 2.0.
Just like its most famous namesake — Dorian Gray, of the famous Oscar Wilde novel — Hurricane Dorian has taken on a very nasty character. As the peak of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season approaches (typically in mid-September), Dorian has rapidly intensified, wreaking havoc on the Bahamas’ Abaco Islands and slowing down dangerously over Grand Bahama to the point where the National Hurricane Center in Florida is predicting “extreme destruction”.
Several sections of Florida’s east coast have also started to feel the storm's effects, but forecasters suggest the mainland United States may be spared the worst.
“The monster is here,” said a reporter for the Bahamas’ ZNS News, which had been broadcasting live footage, calls for help and emergency numbers continuously on Facebook. A combination of extreme storm surge (high waves up to 20 feet that have breached sea walls), “king tides” and continuous rain is resulting in unprecedented flooding; winds have been roaring at up to 185 miles per hour.
Although experts are debating whether or not climate change has been contributing to an increased number of hurricanes, they agree that higher sea levels and temperatures are ramping up their intensity. This is, in large part, due to the release of high levels of greenhouse gases from environmentally destructive practices like deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.
Chief Curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in Nassau, Holly Bynoe, shared her thoughts on Facebook. Her message was that Caribbean governments and citizens need to address the reality of global heating with clear eyes and focus:
The Bahamas will lose so very much in the coming days, much more than any of us have ever imagined or undoubtedly wanted to bear witness to.
This collective trauma and loss, in time, and sooner rather than later has to be accounted for. Prime Minister [Hubert] Minnis said […] that they will now look into putting legislation in place for mandatory evacuations and that he hopes that there is no backlash from the opposition.
This is not a political or bipartisan issue; this is a human rights necessity in the face of Global Climate Collapse. The Bahamian public should not be used as leverage or pawns to further any political agenda.
Bynoe noted that — accustomed as the Bahamas are to hurricanes, Dorian is the most powerful storm ever to make landfall there:
After Matthew and Irma, there has been little by way of public discourse around innovation and charting/designing the new countries that we need to build to survive for the coming decades, and centuries ‘if’ we make it. The Bahamas is, after all vulnerable, in that it will be one of the first places to be swallowed by the seas in this Climate Collapse. The rest of the Caribbean might look at this with their volcanic/mountainous lushness and say, ‘hmm, we might have some more time,’ but this is not true. We all need to innovate, advocate and start that journey of investing now! […]
Our entire Caribbean is becoming another testing ground for climate injustice. Mix some good old politics in there, and people's lives are held in checks and balances. […]
The keywords for the coming day or two are PREPARE and SURRENDER.
The word right after is FIGHT.
Let's make sure we get this right.
In September 2017, several small islands in the eastern Caribbean, as well as Puerto Rico, withstood two strong hurricanes in quick succession: Irma and Maria. Many islands, such as the devastated island of Dominica, have still not fully recovered. Nevertheless, one Dominica-based naturalist shared a message of support on Facebook:
A tribute dance for the people of Abaco, Bahamas from Dominica as Hurricane Dorian devastates them. As hard as it is; in all things give thanks and rest assured help is on its way. […]
Many of us are surely remembering where we were and what we did on 18th September 2017 when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Dominica.
It is sad that we the Caribbean islands have to pay; facing the full effect of climate change. But regardless of the odds, we must carry-on. Let’s rally round the people of Bahamas and let us reach out in whatever way we can possible.
Each year, Caribbean islands await the beginning of the hurricane season, wondering what it will bring —  and which territories will be affected. In the past four years, five Category 5 storms have occurred, including Dorian.
While some countries are doing what they can to prepare and mitigate risk — the climate change division of Jamaica’s government, for example, will be participating in yet another regional seminar on climate resilience — the time for the Caribbean to fight the climate crisis with more determined action and greater support is, perhaps, long overdue.

May 4, 2019

FaceBook Data Shows The Amount of People That Have Left Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

TRACKING MIGRANTS  After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, many residents fled to the mainland United States. Researchers estimated that exodus using Facebook data — evidence that social media can provide rough, real-time estimates of migrations of people following natural disasters, the team says.     

Hurricane Maria sent Puerto Ricans fleeing from the island to the U.S. mainland, but population surveys to assess the size of that migration would have taken at least a year to complete. A new study suggests, however, that a Facebook tool for advertisers could provide crude, real-time estimates for how many people are moving because of a natural disaster. That could help governments design policies to assist those displaced people.  

The Facebook data revealed that, from October 2017 to January 2018, the Puerto Rican population on the mainland increased by some 17 percent, or about 185,200 residents. That would imply a 5.6 percent decrease in the population living the U.S. Caribbean territory.

Almost a third of those migrants, or about 65,400 people, went to Florida, the data suggest. Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts each also received about 8,000 to around 15,000 new migrants from Puerto Rico. About 19,500 Puerto Ricans appear to have returned home from January to March 2018, researchers report April 11 in Austin, Texas, at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America.

Overall, the migration estimate is in line with the official estimate of 159,415 Puerto Ricans having relocated to the mainland one year after the hurricane.  

Scientists acknowledge that relying on social media data has drawbacks, including an inability to control data samples. Facebook use is limited in many countries, and users may not represent the general population.

There is also no way to check the company’s demographic data for accuracy, says Fabrício Benevenuto, a computer scientist at Federal University at Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who was not involved in this research. “The algorithm provided by Facebook is not public, so it’s a black box.”

The study, also published online on the preprint server SocArXiv, is a proof of concept, says coauthor Monica Alexander, a sociologist and statistician at the University of Toronto. “Despite all these problems, we are still getting a signal that’s measurable and useful to track [demographic] changes,” she says.

Fleeing to the mainland
Data from a Facebook application for advertisers suggests that in the three months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, Florida’s population of Puerto Ricans swelled the most in the country. It rose by almost 22 percent, or around 65,400 people, researchers say. Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts also saw substantial gains of 8,000 to 15,000 migrants, the team estimates. (Only states with a Puerto Rican migrant population of at least 18,000 are depicted.)

United States map

United States map
Alexander and her colleagues used the Facebook tool Ads Manager, which lets advertisers gauge the size and composition of a target audience. By creating target groups according to age, sex and place of origin — such as ages 25 to 35, female and Puerto Rican — the team could estimate how the Puerto Rican population in the U.S. mainland changed in size and profile over the period studied. (The program is free for users like Alexander who are not using the information to create targeted ads.)

The researchers had already spent months testing whether Ads Manager could help track all migrants to the contiguous United States when Hurricane Maria hit the Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands in September 2017. The team then zoomed in on mainland U.S. populations of Puerto Ricans in January 2018.

The raw Facebook data can be misleading, Alexander says. Some of the fluctuations in migrant populations revealed by Ads Manager could be tied to changes in the program itself. To correct for those fluctuations, the researchers created a control group of long-term visitors to the United States that would not have been affected by the hurricane. Comparing trends in the Puerto Rican groups with trends in the control group allowed the team identify which fluctuations came from programmatic glitches.

Comparing the data against a control group led the researchers to a new finding: post-hurricane migration from Puerto Rico appeared to skew young and male. Migrants ages 15 to 30 from the island made up 23 percent more of the overall Puerto Rican migrant population than in the control group. The Puerto Rican migrant group was also about 2 percent more comprised of men.

By March 2018, the mainland Puerto Rican population had shrunk back down by almost 2 percent, which the team assumed meant some individuals had returned home.  

“Accurate data on migration flows is not readily available in any given year, so we have to get proxies,” says economist Edwin Meléndez of Hunter College in New York City, who was not involved in the research. Those proxies can help elucidate migration trends, he says, until official estimates come later.

March 28, 2019

Paper Towel Trump Bitches About ALL The Help PR is Received Meanwhile 670k Got Cuts For Food

 Looking for one of his balls maybe a couple

President Trump complained in a private lunch Tuesday with Senate Republicans about the amount of disaster aid designated for Puerto Rico, as lawmakers prepare for a standoff over funds for the island that is still struggling to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to officials familiar with the meeting. 

Trump’s remarks came during an hour-long, freewheeling soliloquy at the Capitol with Senate Republicans where he boasted about the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, encouraged Republicans to take up another legislative effort on health care and mocked Democrats over the Green New Deal.

Trump’s decision to use the occasion to send a message about funding for Puerto Rico underscores his continuing push to limit aid to the island.

In the past, Trump has asked advisers how to reduce money for Puerto Rico and signaled that he won’t support any more aid beyond food stamp funds. At the lunch Tuesday, Trump rattled off the amount of aid that had been designated for other disaster-hit states and compared it with the amount allocated for Puerto Rico following the 2017 hurricane, which he said was too high, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting. 

Trump noted to GOP senators that Texas — also battered by a spate of hurricanes — was awarded $29 billion in aid, while South Carolina got $1.5 billion to recover from storms. Trump then questioned why Puerto Rico was getting $91 billion, according to two people familiar with his comments, indicating that this was too much compared with compensation for states on the mainland.

Trump remarked that one could buy Puerto Rico four times over for $91 billion, according to people familiar with his comments.

How many people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria? | Fact Checker
                               How many people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria? | Fact Checker
A year after Hurricane Maria, President Trump bumbles the storm's once-disputed death count in Puerto Rico. 
A year after Hurricane Maria, President Trump bumbles the storm's once-disputed death count in Puerto Rico. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
But it’s unclear where Trump got the figure for Puerto Rico aid. It is similar to estimates of the amount of damage as opposed to what Congress has approved for relief. One congressional official said it’s difficult to quantify how much aid the island received because of how the money is disbursed.

{{The amount of damage}}

Democrats have criticized the president’s reluctance to provide more money to help the island recover. On Tuesday, following recent reports about Trump’s opposition to providing additional aid, it was announced that the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development would review whether the White House has interfered with hurricane relief funding approved for Puerto Rico as part of a broader examination of the agency’s administration of disaster grants.

Congress has appropriated nearly $20 billion in HUD relief funds for Puerto Rico — which accounts for one type of federal aid that states ravaged by natural disasters can get. Of that pot of money, $1.5 billion has been approved for spending.

A White House spokesman said Tuesday that the Trump administration is committed to “the complete recovery” of Puerto Rico. “The island has received unprecedented support and is on pace to receive tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers,” the spokesman, Judd Deere, said. “However, the Trump Administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades-old spending crisis that has left the island with deep-rooted economic problems.” 

On a 90-10 vote later Tuesday afternoon, the Senate advanced disaster-aid legislation drafted by Republicans that Democratic leaders have already panned as insufficient. It allocates about $13.4 billion for states that have faced recent natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. It also contains $600 million in food stamp aid for Puerto Rico. 

“House Democrats oppose this bill because it does not adequately address disaster relief and recovery in Puerto Rico and the territories,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee. “If the Senate passes this bill, we will insist on going to conference to ensure that we meet the needs of all Americans.” 

The president’s Puerto Rico remarks were just one bit of what he discussed with Senate Republicans, who described Trump as being in a particularly good mood following the end of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

According to Attorney General William P. Barr, the report provided to him by Mueller did not establish there was a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Trump has touted this finding as vindication, but Democrats are calling for the full report to be released.

Trump invited himself to the Senate Republicans’ weekly policy lunch because he wanted to speak with senators after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, according to people familiar with planning. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) described Trump’s mood as “exuberant.”

Some White House aides tried to discourage the visit, saying there was no agenda, according to two people familiar with the matter. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie was scheduled to speak with senators about veterans care legislation at the lunch, but he was knocked off the agenda because of Trump’s impromptu visit, according to a GOP official. 

During the lunch, Trump boasted to senators that Mueller’s report gave him a “clean bill of health,” according to attendees — while remarking that the investigation was “two years of bulls***,” recalled a person in the room. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) described Trump as talking as if he had a “new lease on life,” with the president discussing how difficult the process had been on his family and close friends. 

Trump also discussed a potential trade deal with China and encouraged new efforts to write health-care legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, senators said. Trump also mocked the Green New Deal, a proposal from some Democrats to combat climate change, and told senators “don’t kill it yet” because he said he wanted to run against it next year as he campaigns for reelection, according to Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and another attendee. 

“I think the president enjoys pointing out the uncomfortable position that some of our Democratic colleagues find [themselves] in,” Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) said of Trump’s private comments on the Green New Deal. 

Trump aired some of his regular grievances during his remarks, which took up the better part of an hour and left time only for a handful of questions from Republicans near the end of the session, attendees said. 

Ahead of NATO’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Washington next week, Trump continued his criticisms of the alliance — venting that NATO costs too much and even complaining that its glass headquarters in Brussels was too expensive, people familiar with his remarks said.

Trump refrained from reviving his attacks against the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), and no Republican raised the topic of the president’s recent criticisms of their colleague, who died in August. 

But Trump — who scanned the room and joked to GOP senators that he likes about “90 percent” of those in attendance — took veiled shots at two other former senators and critics: “There were two of you I didn’t like last year.” 

One of them, Trump said, is now on television — a reference to former senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who recently signed a contract with CBS News — and the other is “getting their real estate license,” apparently referring to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who amassed significant personal wealth through acquisition of commercial real estate properties before his time in elected office. 

A person close to Corker responded: “I don’t think it will surprise you to learn that Senator Corker actually is not planning to get a real estate license.”

A White House spokesman said Trump ran through a litany of topics during his visit to the GOP lunch, including his “complete and total vindication” in the special counsel’s investigation, health care and efforts to rebuild the nation’s military. 

“He didn’t have a prepared text, okay?” said Kennedy, whom Trump singled out inside the lunch and praised for his performance on television earlier that day, according to attendees. “He talks until he is through talking, and he’s very thorough.” 

“He’s always high energy,” Cramer said. “He had a little extra today.”

October 2, 2018

PR's Governor Says He Is Willing To Admit Mistakes He Made But 5 Millions PR's Will Back Politicians Helping The Island in The Mainland

Puerto Rico recently made headlines 12 months after Hurricane Maria barreled through the island. Last month, President Donald Trump called San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz “totally incompetent,” reigniting a feud in his attempt to defend the government agencies and his administration’s handling of recovery efforts. In response, Cruz said, "he never got it. He will never get it."  

Setting heated exchanges aside, the role of Governor Ricardo Rosselló also has come under fresh scrutiny. In the aftermath of Maria, he attempted totake a conciliatory approach toward the administration. A month after the catastrophe, Trump gave himself a score of “10” on Maria’s response, while Rosselló told reporters at the White House that “the president answered all of our petitions.”
Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló sat down with Newsweek to talk about the island's recovery efforts.

However, the Puerto Rican government also has faced harsh criticism over its role in the island’s recovery. In an interview with Newsweek last month, Cruz said the governor “did not ask enough.” In August, a Puerto Rico–funded report by George Washington University revealed that nearly 3,000 people had died between September 2017 and February 2018—a stark difference from the official death toll of 64 Rosselló adamantly defended for months. The same study discovered gaps "in the death certification and public communication processes" and found that "the risk of dying was 60 percent higher for individuals who lived in the poorest municipalities." 

Rosselló’s relationship with Trump turned sour in recent days. While the president said that his administration's response to Maria was “an unsung success,” Rosselló, 39, said that U.S.-Puerto Rico relations could not be considered “successful” because Puerto Ricans have not attained the same “inalienable rights” granted to U.S. citizens. “[Puerto Ricans] have favored statehood on two occasions,” he said, according to Puerto Rico’s newspaper El Nuevo Día. “Trivializing this is a lack of respect to the people of Puerto Rico, and we’re not going to accept that.”

A year after Maria and Irma, Rosselló wants to revamp Puerto Rico's economy by way of tourism and renewable energy. During a visit to New York in late September, he sat down with Newsweek to talk about Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts and why it’s important for the island to become the 51st state.

You are an advocate of Puerto Rico statehood. The island would receive benefits from joining the U.S. such as full participation or parity of federal benefits. But those who don’t support this idea say Puerto Ricans will have a hard time paying federal, state and municipal taxes. How to reconcile both sides of the issue?  

On the economic front, it’s very simple. We get much more for being a state than what we would give back, so that’s easy to reconcile. The second part is the political power, and you can’t understate or put a price tag on what it means to have actual participation. As a matter of fact, the results of not having it you’re seeing it now in the slower and delayed recovery for Puerto Rico. To me, it is quite clear: Puerto Rico needs to change its current status and needs to go to statehood. There are other alternatives, but certainly, the current one [U.S. commonwealth] is not an option, and in my view, this is the best one and the one people prefer is statehood.

How would you explain to a U.S. citizen living on the mainland the importance of incorporating Puerto Rico as a U.S. state?

Well, I see Puerto Rico as the most exciting place to invest right now. We are the connector of the Americas. We already added a lot of value to the U.S., but I can see it as the center for diplomatic relationships between South and North America. I see it as the center for economic activity, and certainly, as was the case of Hawaii, for example, the bigger economy drives forward the smaller economy. There are synergies to becoming a state and that would benefit the average citizen. But I think the most important question is, are we satisfied as a democracy in having colonial territories in the 21st century? Are we satisfied with treating more than 3 million U.S. citizens differently just because of the place that they live? The answer is no.  

But months prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, only 500,000 of the 2.6 million Puerto Ricans participated in a plebiscite to support statehood. Do you think Puerto Ricans have lost interest in statehood, or have their views changed after Maria?

I think that there’s more interest than ever in statehood. I think that when you see national polls, you see the tendency clearly towards statehood and away from the other options [commonwealth or independence]. You can’t just take the last plebiscite by itself. There was another plebiscite executed four and a half years previous to that, where there was over 80 percent participation. Statehood won with 60-some percent of the vote, and the current status was rejected. The only reason folks decided not to participate in the plebiscite last year was that they knew what the outcome was going to be: that people were going to support statehood. Yes, support for statehood is big.

Puerto Rico's nonvoting member of Congress, Jenniffer González-Colon, submitted a proposal so that the island becomes the 51st state, and 53 Republicans and Democrats are co-sponsoring it. However, Congress has largely avoided the discussion over statehood. Do you think Congress will listen this time?

It’s a different platform. They have been avoiding it because they could; they have put it as a second- or third-level issue. Now, after the passing of the storm in Puerto Rico, the conversation has elevated to a point where people have a different view on Puerto Rico, and I will give you an example. Prior to the storm, only 20 percent of U.S. citizens in the mainland knew that we were citizens, and now more than 90 percent do. Once you create that consciousness, this has become a hot-button issue for politics. It is right time to get some action on this issue, and the question still remains: Do you want to remain a jurisdiction that has a colonial territory while claiming to be the standard bearer of democracy? The answer should be no.   

You are championing recovery efforts but FEMA has decided to halt the completion of funds that could help in reconstruction initiatives. Why is this detrimental to Puerto Rico’s future?

Our process with FEMA has been marred with bureaucracy. Part of the importance of FEMA in this process is that they were the first line of defense in the recovery, making sure that people have rooms and that adequate resources for an emergency are executed. By delaying this process, you’re delaying the recovery and eventual reconstruction of Puerto Rico. We have very specific asks: Eliminate the excessive bureaucracy that has been imposed on Puerto Rico as opposed to Texas and Florida. Allow us to have a 100 percent of the cost share that is on the president’s desk. We’re asking for his consideration here, and this is nothing different from what happened in Louisiana with Katrina [in 2005]. Enable us to push forward on the recovery, because things need to move faster on FEMA’s side.

Did you ask FEMA to make an exemption of the Stafford Act and the Jones Act, which restricts the upgrade of damaged infrastructure after a natural disaster and prohibits the docking of non-U.S. ships into Puerto Rico’s ports, respectively?   

Well, they already did the test study for the exemption of the Jones Act, so that certainly would be helpful. I think there are many things that need to be changed in the Stafford Act. It’s very restraining and limiting, and for devastations of a certain magnitude it really inhibits the progress moving forward, so there needs to be a broader discussion on how we make the Stafford Act better, how we amend it and how we respond to these devastations.

There is no doubt in my mind that with climate change, this is going to be a significant issue that we’re facing not only in Puerto Rico but in the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. There are going to be side effects such as erosion and, of course, the impacts that we’re seeing. We need to calibrate for those, mitigate and build resilient [infrastructure], so that’s part of my commitment to Puerto Rico. We want to make sure we use this opportunity not only to rebuild but to do it smarter, and innovate.

You are currently at odds with the Fiscal Control Board—a group of seven members appointed by the White House and approved by the PROMESA Act of 2016 to oversee Puerto Rico’s debt crisis—because they haven’t agreed on some legislative measures, such as defending retirees’ pensions and a reduction on financial burden for municipalities. Do you believe the board presents a hurdle to your job as a governor since much of the island’s financial decisions have to go through them?

I recognize the role of the board. We have many differences, and I will fight those differences. From a philosophical perspective, and even prior [to the board’s establishment], I have always opposed the notion of the board. It’s nondemocratic; it’s imposing certain people that are working part-time to be part of a very significant and robust decision-making process. So again, similar to my view with colonialism, this is just another outcome of colonialism. That’s another idea or reason we should veer away from it. No state would have fiscal oversight.

Detractors say the board must leave PR because it doesn’t solve underlying issues such as unemployment. Do you think the Fiscal Control Board should leave Puerto Rico? 

Whether by another action or by our own, once we get budgets balanced, then the oversight board leaves. I think, again, it is something that I don’t think works. The board was there before I became governor. I’m working with it, but I’ll fight it every time I have the opportunity.

It does seem that you and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz concur on several aspects, particularly renewable energy and the removal of U.S. colonization. So why is there a political rift?

We have different worldviews. We have ways of getting our messages across, so that’s another. My way of operating is execution and getting results, while hers is more media-driven. I believe Puerto Rico should be the connector of the Americas and become a U.S. state, but she doesn’t. I believe we should have free market flow and economic development in Puerto Rico, but she opposes it. We have very different worldviews, but as I said in the process of rebuilding Puerto Rico, I’m always willing to work with anybody.

Cruz does agree with you in the mobilization of more than 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. to vote against legislators who forgot about the island. You said last year that Puerto Ricans should “shake up the midterm elections in states ranging from Florida to California.” Are you still standing by that claim? 

Of course, and it is consistent with my worldview. It is not consistent with Cruz’s, as she doesn’t believe in a relationship between the island and the U.S. I think that Puerto Ricans who live in the States and have moved by virtue of lack of opportunities or otherwise can be our political muscle, as it should be.

I will be very much involved in the midterm elections, showcasing that Puerto Ricans will be the determinant factor in those midterm elections. My prediction is that you’ll see that many elections will tilt one way or the other by virtue of the Puerto Rican vote, and more so than just the absolute value of the 5.6 million Puerto Ricans, because there are lots of friends of Puerto Rico, too.

You’re a Democrat. However, there has been some criticism that you have sided with President Donald Trump during the initial recovery efforts, especially after his statement that Puerto Ricans had "thrown our budget out of whack" in the wake of the crisis, as well as the way he treated them with the infamous paper towel tossing. How do you respond to that?

Again, I don’t object to criticism; I welcome it. But I tell you what my role is. The easy thing to do would be to stand up, kick and scream and get nothing done for Puerto Rico. I chose to open a channel of communication, even if the president is from a different party than I am. I chose to establish a dialogue and collaboration with federal agencies, so that has been my focus. I think that right now we are in a world where there’s a lot of noise, a lot of screaming and kicking, and that doesn’t get very much done. I think we need to execute, and the best way to get results is by establishing your case, having an open dialogue and do it right by your people.

You are in New York to promote tourism development opportunities in Puerto Rico, but some hotels need to be rebuilt in the Old San Juan, the electrical grid is not ready, and some areas still have blue tarps installed by FEMA. Moreover, some of these companies bring their own staff abroad. How can tourism resolve poverty and brain drain?

There are many things that need to be done in order to resolve these issues, but tourism is a critical component. We see a path to grow within five or seven years in doubling the output in tourism in Puerto Rico. We’ve done several things to do that: We’re taking the promotion of tourism outside of the government and we’re doing it with the industry, so that stakeholders can drive that and have some consistency. Also, we’re creating Puerto Rico as a multiport destination so that flights and boats can come from many different jurisdictions.

Many of the hotels that still haven’t opened are because they’re making remodeling efforts, so many of them will be opening in next quarter and some of them will open the following year, and new hotels are coming to Puerto Rico. We have embarked on transforming [our] energy grid from one that is probably one of the worst in our region to what we aspire to be a model in all of the region and perhaps the world—one that has more than 40 percent renewables and that can be cost-effective and reliable. We want a system that can have a customer-centric approach, solving the customer’s needs.

We see it as part of the job creation to get our economy flowing. This is not the only way to generate employment but it's certainly an important part, and what we wanted to do here in New York was let all the stakeholders know that Puerto Rico is open for business and that we're receiving tourism. It is, in my view, the most exciting place to invest so that we can attract capital, visitors and development.

You once said that one of your greatest regrets was not asking for a more accurate death toll.  Twelve months after Maria, what other regrets do you have?

I made mistakes and I own them up. There are two types of leadership in that sense: You can either ignore your mistakes and keep on making them, or you identify them and try to fix them. There are many things, we faced a devastation unlike any other, and we learned from that. I estimated that the electric grid was ready by mid-December but we didn’t achieve that goal, so that was a mistake on my part.

Our protocols, not only the death-toll protocol but just the readiness for hurricanes in Puerto Rico—and in the United States, which is very concerning—were never prepared for an event of this magnitude. Now, moving towards the future, we are prepared for the worst-case scenario. We only had one distribution site of commodities in Puerto Rico, and now we have nine across the island so that they can be better suited for. There have been mistakes, and my commitment is to own them up and fix them.


September 24, 2018

In Many Parts of Puerto Rico it seems like the storm hit yesterday. The damage it is still there.

Utuado (Central West in the Island). Even a well constructed cement house to which testament it does not breaks apart but the wind and the heavy rain blows it down the reveen. The worse part is this: A home in Utuado severely damaged by Hurricane Maria remains unlivable a year later.

Photographs by Joseph Rodriguez
Written by Ed Morales
Mr. Rodriguez is a photojournalist. Mr. Morales is the author of a book about Latino identity in the United States.
Last October, my sister and I traveled to Puerto Rico to pick up our 89-year-old mother and take her back to New York. Hurricane Maria had battered her remote mountain community in Río Grande, near the El Yunque National Forest. 

My mother, who coincidentally is named María, had long resisted our pleas to move to the mainland, but we knew that in the chaos after the storm, many Puerto Ricans, especially older people, would die. We didn’t want her to be one of them. She finally agreed to leave.

Because of the damage to her home in Utuado, Julia Rivera, 48, who has nine children, has to collect and store water in plastic jugs and cook meals in a makeshift kitchen she created in her backyard.

Poor communities in urban areas like Santurce and Loíza are struggling with severely damaged housing, the loss of jobs and small businesses, and sluggish responses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In rural communities, it’s even worse. Julia Rivera, a mother of nine in Utuado, a mountainous town in the path of Maria’s center, still needs funds to repair her leaking roof. “I have lost everything but my faith in God,” she lamented.

Julia Rivera’s son Sandro Rodriguez Rivera in his bedroom. The power is intermittent and water leaks through the house’s badly damaged ceilings.

Puerto Rico was experiencing a health care crisis before Maria, with doctors leaving in droves for the mainland and severe cuts in Medicaidlooming. In Vieques — an island on the east coast of Puerto Rico that once housed a United States Navy base — the hospital was flooded and then overtaken by toxic mold. The hospital remains closed, and patients can receive only basic care in temporary medical facility.

Anna Tufino Camacho, 93, lives alone in Vieques. Blind in one eye, she also has heart disease and a fractured spine. Volunteers from Fundación Stefano check in on Ms. Camacho, who weathered the hurricane by lying in a bathtub.

A mural in Old San Juan that means “Promise Is Poverty,” a reference to the Financial Oversight and Management Board imposed by Congress.

In Palo Seco, Juanita and Artemio García, who would like to rebuild their local cafe, are weighing whether to move to Orlando, Fla., to be with their son, a music teacher, and his children. “I still haven’t made up my mind,” Mr. García said. “My son keeps asking, and maybe he’s right. I miss my grandchildren.”

 Juanita and Artemio García, married 54 years, would like to rebuild their café, named Two Times, in Palo Seco, but are considering moving to Florida.

Fernando Montero, a 64-year-old coffee farmer in Utuado, and his wife, Maria Gonzalez, lost six of their thirteen acres of coffee plants in the hurricane. Mr. Montero says it will take three years for the crop to come back.

And yet, as spring approached, my mother began to miss the rhythms of her barrio. In February, we heard that the power there had been restored. Her sister, Mercedes, and her neighbors had made their way back. Though we had wanted so much for her to stay, we knew it was time for her to do the same. She needed to be in the place that made her feel alive. 

Ed Morales teaches at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and his latest book is “Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture.” 
Joseph Rodriguez is a photojournalist whose latest book is “Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s.” This article was produced with support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Produced by Jeffrey Henson Scales and Isvett Verde

August 10, 2018

Puerto Rico Acknowledges Close to 1500 People Died Not 64 {{The Shoe Memorial_Missing the Wearers}}

 A woman stands among hundreds of pairs of shoes displayed at the Puerto Rico’s Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Maria's victims

Puerto Rico has acknowledged that Hurricane Maria killed 1,427 people in the US territory, not 64 as it has previously reported.
Maria hit the island in September 2017 and it has struggled to repair its infrastructure and power grid.
The latest figure was in a draft report for US Congress, requesting $139bn (£108bn) in recovery funds. 
The New York Times was first to report that the island's authorities had quietly accepted the revised estimate.
Image result for Over 1400 died in puerto rico
A government spokesperson acknowledged the latest number as a "realistic estimate" but said that the death toll had not been officially changed, as the authorities were awaiting the results of a study by George Washington University. 
"We don't want to say it out loud or publicise it as an official number... until we see the study and have the accuracy," Pedro Cerame from the island's Federal Affairs Administration told the Times.
The government has faced criticism for underreporting the number of those killed in the wake of 2017 storm. Researchers from Harvard University said interviews conducted in Puerto Rico suggested a 60% increase in mortality in the three months after the storm.
Many died from interrupted medical care and lack of access to hospitals. The power outage also led to an increased number of deaths from diabetes and sepsis.
Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in US history, according to research consultancy the Rhodium Group.
There have also been repeated power cuts since then, including an island-wide one in April, nearly seven months after the hurricane.
Overall, Hurricane Maria caused losses of $90bn, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said.
The Caribbean island is home to 3.4 million US citizens.

Featured Posts

Police Union For NYS Troopers Want Out of NYC Because of the NO Chokeholds Law

"SEND THEM AWAY TO ANOTHER STATE I SAY" I hear Russia is Hiring...                                       ...