Puerto Rico – Maria Changed Everything

Puerto Rico – Maria changed everything

By Maryann Vazquez

I’ve always been a proud Puerto Rican.  My father grew up in Ponce –  that island is my history.  I still have Cousins and Aunts on what was a beautiful tropical paradise.  Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20th at 6:15 am. and the Island was decimated. It will ever be the island again that I promised I would take my daughter and grand-daughter to again.

My cousins and uncle on the mainland quickly started exchanging phone calls, emails and texts to find out how our family on the island was doing. There were no responses initially, but several days later, we did find that the many of them are safe, and from others we have had no contact.

Since then, the people in the outlying areas within 40 minutes of San Juan are not receiving food and water for survival even 10 days later.  They don’t have electricity, potable water, sanitation systems or other life’s basis needs.

I have two aunts in a nursing facility, and they are at high risk.  I’m concerned for them and other people who may be dying. My cousin Cookie has cancer – is she getting the treatment she needs?  How many others are in the same position? I can’t image what it feels like not to know if or when someone would be coming to help.  It would feel like the whole world was gone and no one cared.  How hopeless would that feel? 

In Puerto Rico now Americans are drinking from streams that are likely toxic.  Americans are being reduced to living in a third-world culture.   Government agencies have advised people to register on line for assistance even though the island’s power grid and communications lines are down. Trump is blaming the victims for not taking action.  How can you, if you don’t have access to basic human needs? 

The mayor of San Juan pleaded last night for federal aid.  She pleaded “If anyone out there is listening to us, we are dying and you are killing us with the inefficiency and bureaucracy”.  “I’m asking the members of the press to send a Mayday call all over the world.   We are dying here.  If we don’t get food and water into people’s hands, what we are going to see is something that is close to a genocide.” This is a life and death story, and she’s talking about my people – our fellow American Citizens. 

The Mayor said donations are primarily from private donors.   For example, Mark Cuban flew two of his private planes into San Juan last week loaded with life-saving supplies.  Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines delivered food and water and many other generous donations have been delivered. 

Where is our government?   We knew the hurricanes were coming.  Why was there not a plan in place?  Why were more Troops sent to Houston and Florida immediately.  Why is it taking so long to get boots on the ground to an island that is completely decimated?  Why are lives of our American Citizens on the mainland more important to save than American Citizens on the Island? I want to know.