By: Caroline Amen
October 12th, 2017
PUERTO RICO- a U.S. territory of 3.4 million people- struggled through a 4th week with virtually no electricity, patchy communications, and shortages of fuel, clean water and other essentials in the wake of Hurricane Maria: the most powerful storm to hit the island in nearly 90 years. The storm struck on Sept. 20th with lethal, roof-ripping forces and torrential rains that caused widespread flooding and heavily damaged homes, roads, and other infrastructure.
The following are the resources deployed by the United States to Puerto Rico as of Saturday. As for the military response, there are about 4,500 U.S. troops on the ground in Puerto Rico, including active duty and national guard. An additional 1,400 National Guard members are expected to arrive in Puerto Rico in four days. Also, The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, arrived in Puerto Rico on Oct.3rd. The Comfort is equipped to carry up to 1,000 hospital beds, 12 operating rooms, and one of America’s largest trauma units.
Furthermore, relief efforts are making sure that Puerto Rico is getting more power and receiving ample water. There are 4,000 people working to restore electricity and private U.S. companies will be bringing in 1,000 additional workers this weekend, as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said. This is a good sign that the relief efforts are improving.
As for infrastructure, the Pentagon reported eight airports are open and only one is still closed. Also, about 33 percent of the overall telecommunications network had been restored as of Saturday afternoon, FEMA said. However, experts predict that it will take months to repair the electrical grid enough so that most residents of the island have power. For months to come, most Puerto Ricans will be without power, a constant reminder of how much work still needs to be done to repair the island. While destruction and suffering is still fresh, at least there now is hope as the United States continues in a relief effort to help Puerto Rico through this devastating time.