September 25, 2022

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White House increases aid to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico on painful five-year anniversary

White House increases aid to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico on painful five-year anniversary


Exactly five years later Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico destroyed, so far Another catastrophic storm Tests the federal government’s ability to mount a rapid response on an exposed island with its primitive infrastructure and vulnerability to climate change.

The Biden White House is mobilizing a wave of help next Hurricane Fiona It caused torrential rains, severe flooding, mudslides and power outages. Echoes of 2017, when Maria caused more than 2,000 deaths and left tens of billions of dollars in damages, haunt locals still trying to rebuild. Some of those whose homes have been flooded may face the prospect of starting over.

“It was a catastrophic rain that wouldn’t stop,” Robert Little, the island’s FEMA coordinator, told Erin Burnett for CNN, as the government’s relief efforts began to accelerate. “The FEMA team has been leaning forward since we got the call to come down here.”

The effort has relied on improving the federal presence on the island since Maria, when the Trump administration came under fire for its haphazard response and encouragement to itself despite the tragedy that unfolded months later as technicians struggled to restore the electrical grid. Although often overlooked in Washington, Puerto Ricans are US citizens who live on US island territory and are entitled to federal government assistance.

Detailed damage assessments from this storm were still being compiled early Tuesday, but some residents said the terrible floods and mudslides were reminiscent of the devastation wrought by Maria.

The arrival of the latest hurricane was particularly harsh because many Puerto Ricans have been through hard times since 2017, as they struggled through bleak chapters of storms, earthquakes, epidemic and political turmoil.

“This is ruin because of destruction,” Carmen Yulin Cruz, the former mayor of San Juan, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “Situation Room.”

Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi told CNN reporter Anderson Cooper Monday night that while most of the damage five years ago was due to high winds, the problem this time is the amount of rainfall. He said that while the power grid was fixed after Maria, it hasn’t actually been improved.

Still Pierluisi added: “We are now much better prepared than we were in Puerto Rico five years ago when Hurricane Maria hit. Just to give you an example, FEMA now has four warehouses located all over Puerto Rico instead of one.”

Millions of residents lost electricity with Fiona’s entry. And after crossing the Dominican Republic, leaving a million customers without running water, it is now a Category 2 hurricane expected to pass near the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday.

A Pierluisy spokesperson told CNN that at least two people have died because of Fiona. One of them was a 58-year-old man who had been swept away by a river. Another man died when his generator caught fire while trying to fill it with gasoline.

Conditions are difficult because many medical centers were operating on emergency capacity. Falling trees and power lines made it difficult for patients to reach hospitals. The National Guard and emergency responders rescued about 1,000 people overnight through Monday as rain fell on the island.

as such President Joe Biden Returning from London and Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, he called Pierluisi from Air Force One to pledge strong support. He said 300 federal employees are already working and that the number of support personnel will increase significantly as damage assessments are completed.

The president promised that the federal team would stay as long as it took “the work to do,” especially since many families were still rebuilding after the nightmare that followed Maria, a deadly Category 5 storm that left many residents without electricity for months.

The White House said Biden directed Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Dean Cresswell to travel to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to meet with local officials and citizens and assess urgent needs.

One man, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, bemoaned the impact of a storm that ruthlessly undermined the rebuilding work of many Puerto Ricans.

“We’re not all the way back; we’re only halfway back. A lot of people, more than Maria, have lost their homes…now to the floods,” Gonzalez told CNN reporter Leila Santiago.

The primary motive of the White House and government emergency management agencies is always to mitigate the loss of life and loss of life from a storm. Then the filtering and rebuilding process begins.

Each hurricane brings potential political pitfalls to presidential administrations. A late response, signs of indifference, or misdirected help can lead to days of uncomfortable news coverage with the potential to stall political momentum, like the one Biden is currently enjoying.

Since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, exposing a catastrophic disconnect between the George W. Bush administration and local authorities, White House teams have been vigilant about the possibility of a political backlash from mishandling natural disasters. They are doing their best to ensure cooperation with the local authorities. Or at least most of them do.

Another hurricane to hit Puerto Rico has revived memories of former President Donald Trump’s response to Maria, When a video clip of him throwing paper towels At an aid distribution center, it was the embodiment of an often indifferent relief effort. The former president, however, granted himself an A-plus for his response, despite the fact that more than 2900 peopleAccording to the Puerto Rican government, it was later revealed that she had died from the impact of the storm. Trump has also responded to the criticism by criticizing the media and local officials – in a preview of how he has prioritized his political aspirations over proper disaster management during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yulin Cruz, who frequently clashed with Trump hard in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, said Puerto Ricans were collectively suffering from PTSD after successive disasters, but that the federal government’s strong response could help cushion the shock.

“The federal government has a great opportunity here, (and) President Biden to show the world how things are done when they’re done right,” she said.

After the immediate relief effort, Washington will likely be called upon to provide more long-term aid to Puerto Ricans for further reconstruction efforts. But former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the lesson of past natural disasters was that putting things back in place wouldn’t work.

“The madness of going backwards and back to the way it was again doesn’t work,” Foggt told CNN Monday.

“We have to really focus on making investments where we’re going to rebuild, how we’re going to rebuild. Because the climate has changed – how we’ve been rebuilding and developing hasn’t caught up yet,” he added.

Although 2022 has been a relatively mild hurricane season so far, such storms feed on warm ocean waters and moist air, and scientists say the climate crisis is making them even more powerful.

The proportion of high-intensity cyclones has increased due to rising global temperatures, according to a United Nations climate report released last month. Scientists have also found that storms are more likely to stop, produce devastating rain and last longer after they make landfall.

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