With all the shift that happens in news stories, I am afraid we are losing a sense of the dire situation in Puerto Rico, don't you? All Trump seems to have to do is make some outrageous tweet and the news follows the trail. One news commentator Bob Schieffer called it "putting a dead cat on the dinner table". He said that no matter the topic of conversation at a dinner table, all someone has to do is throw out a dead cat onto the table and everyone's attention will be drawn to the dead cat. Same holds true of the news and what lunancy Trump tweets. Of course, some of the switch in the cycle is due justly to the tragic events in Las Vegas. My lord, it seems 2017 is nothing but tragic events lately!
Even so, I still have that picture of the mayor of San Juan begging for anyone who will listen that they need help, that people will die on the level of a genocide if no one comes to their aide, really comes to their aide. In an article written by Robinson Meyer entitled "What's Happening With the Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico?" she makes jaw dropping comparisons and time lines to show what is happening. I mean, really, what is happening? Are people just exaggerating and finger pointing to make political points or has there been some legitament neglegence to a Hurricane Katrina level? Or worse?
This "almost category 5" hurricane dumped the same amount of wind and rain in 30 hours that was dumped by Irma in Houston in 3 days. 30 hours of tornado like winds and rain that tore through that country like a "buzz saw", as one meterologist quoted in the article said. This happened to a population of 80,000 already without power from Irma passing by her.
One stark comparison the author makes is the Obama adminstration's response to the magnitude 7.0 Earthquake in Haiti as compared to the Trump adminstration's efforts with Maria. For Haiti, Obama immediately sent 8,000 troops in two days, following that up with 22,000 on 33 ships in 2 weeks. In addition, 5 living presidents were engaged in relief fund for Haiti. In contrast, Puerto Rico has been sent 7,200 troops in two weeks and no presidential relief fund campaigns. The only tweet that really got any action came from Hilary Clinton calling on the government to send out the USS Comfort--a ship that is a floating hospital which took about a week to get there. Trump, while promising help and compassion, has criticized the country for "wanting everything done for them" and when the mayor noted the lack of effective help and begged for help on world wide television, he critized her as being ineffective and prodded by the Democratic party to attack him.
I will interject here that I'm sure our resources must be somewhat more weighted with Maria coming in so soon after Irma. Much aide has arrived, but they don't have the truck drivers, fuel or communications to move a lot of that out. I don't know....if we can send fire fighters to fight fires in California can't we send truck drivers? Still, I think logistically, it may be more challenging than we realize. However, as with everything else, no matter what you believe or party you want to blame, there is no justification for this president's tweets against the country and the mayor of San Juan. It is the equivalent of being taken on an ambulance after a terrible traffic accident, with your life hanging in the balance, and the paramedic is on a computer checking your credit report and asking when you are going to get your debt cleaned up. It's just cruel and unusual.
All that aside, I turn your attention to the article's time line so you can examine for yourself and make your own judgments about how the reliefs went and are going. Meanwhile, I will make a briefer synopsis of that time line here just in case you rather not read an entire article (full article here):
Sept 6--The eye of Hurricane Irma skirts past Puerto Rico, 2/3rd's population lose power, 34% lose access to clean water.
Sept. 16 (4 days before impact)--a low trough in the Atlantic develops by this time into a tropical storm with 50 mph winds. National Weather Service names it Maria and the first predictions of warning to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico begins.
Sept. 18 (2 days before impact)--Hurricane Watch for Virgin Is. & P.R. as Maria develops the "dreaded pinhole eye" which marks her as very dangerous with intense winds. Weather service warns of possible Category 5 hitting all of Puerto Rico for first time as she increases dramatically in intensity. Winds are recorded at 160 mph.
Sept. 19 (1 day before impact) 500 buildings opened as shelters. 500 National Guardsmen called upon in P.R., and 800 in the Virgin Islands with 2 black hawk helicopters and 3 C-130 transport planes. Trump tweets out reassurence that we will help you!
Sept. 20 (IMPACT)--80 to 90% of structures in San Juan alone destroyed. Weather service observing stations destroyed. No electricty means no access to water on the island.
Sept. 21--Trump issues state of emergency of Puerto Rico and heads to New Jersey to his golf club for the weekend. Electrical grid for P.R. entirely destroyed. Rain keeps coming and diasterous flooding predicted.
Sept 22- (2 days after Impact) Trump meets with cabinet on how to keep people from entering the country from eight specific countries and only briefly mentions P.R. He holds speech critizing the NFL that evening and mentions nothing of P.R. Then he returns to New Jersey golf club.
Sept 23--70,000 P.R's evacuating for fear a dam may break from bad infastructure and the amount of rainfall. 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots and a few generators arrive.
Sept. 24 (4 days after impact)--Hillary Clinton issues tweet calling on gov't to do more by enlisting the USS Comfort to assist in emergency efforts. Pence makes first contact with a Puertican Rican government official by the adminstration since first impact.
Sept. 25 Government officials make first run through of P.R. Only statement made is that 2,600 Dept of Defense employees are on the Virgin Islands while the P.R. governor warns of a humanitarian crisis. Trump tweets about P.R. being deeply in debt and having poor infrastructure and how big the relief efforts will have to be.
Sept. 26 (Six days after impact) Trump holds first meeting in the Situation Room about P.R relief efforts (as compared to taking only a day or so to meet when it was Irma in Houston Texas). 1.53 million people without clean water or electricity. Trump talks to P.R. government officials for the first time.
Senator Mark Rubio and others write Trump a letter urging him for more help to P.R. The Navy sends out the USS Comfort and nine additional cargo planes to P.R with another seven going to the Virgin Islands.
Sept. 27- Death toll (16) is said to be highly inaccurate in that many have died from not receiving necessary medical aide, etc. Impossible to tell at this point. 10,000 shipping containers of food and supplies remain stranded at ports with not enough truck drivers, fuel and communications.
DHS secretary Elaine Dukes tells news media they are very happy with their relief efforts. Meanwhile military estimates 160 million meals will be needed of the next 30 days.
Sept. 29 (9 Days after impact) San Juan mayor Cruz says Elaine Dukes' assessment really "frustrates me and upsets me". Later that day she says,'“We are dying here. If we don’t get the food and the water into the people’s hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide.”
Sept. 30 (10 Days after impact) 1.87 million people don't have power, food, or clean water--more than orginal estimates. Trump attacks Cruz with tweet: “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”
Oct. 1-2 Increase in troops from 4,000 to 6,000 in P.R. 8,000+ people in shelters still. Trump tweets about a great job for the relief efforts in P.R. and implies all buildings have been inspected and are safe--something no federal agency back ups. 729 gas stations out of 1000+ are open, and increase in food supply stations, and a reported 7,200 military personell working on the island by Oct 2.
Oct. 3 (13 days after impact) Trump makes first visit to P.R. throwing out paper towel and toilet paper to the crowds among other supplies. He makes a statement that P.R. relief efforts have greatly impacted the budget but "that's fine. We saved a lot of lives".
The USS Comfort finally arrives to port. The real comfort for us all may be if a ship came and picked up this president and sent him out to Skull Island for a little tango with King Kong.