We Must Improve Our Treatment Of Puerto Rico

When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico Sept. 20, the island hadn’t yet recovered from Hurricane Irma. Maria officially killed 49 people, though the actual number is likely higher, and caused catastrophic damage that has turned into a humanitarian crisis. More than a month later, the majority of the island is still without power and could be without it for many more months.

Residents there are also struggling to get water and food. Images show people waiting in long lines for basic supplies and even drinking water from contaminated sites.

Being without electricity and water is absurd in this day and age. We have to pool all the resources we can to make the people there whole as quickly as possible.

The government’s response to Puerto Rico was much different than what occurred after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Hurricane Irma hit Florida. Why? Prejudice. I think we’re treating the people of Puerto Rico like second class citizens.

Our country is better than that. Or it should be.

President Trump visited the island after the disaster but didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. He’s not the one suffering. He lives in the White House, which has much more than the basic necessities.

The president has said the recovery effort in Puerto Rico is more difficult than the mainland United States because it’s an island and it was in poor shape before the hurricanes hit. This should not be an excuse to justify the slow recovery time.

The people of Puerto Rico continue to suffer. Without access to clean drinking water and power, the death toll from Hurricane Maria could grow even higher, which would be a great tragedy.

We have to correct this injustice facing our fellow Americans. If the president can’t, then he has to go.

by Monsignor William J. Linder 
November 2017

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