On Tuesday, September 19, hurricane María began its journey across Puerto Rico. María has caused mass flooding, broken dams and killed about 16 people. The causes of death are mostly due to drowning, however some cases have been reported of death by minor landslides or by fatal impact with flying objects.
The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, said in an interview with Anderson Cooper in CNN, Tuesday evening that hurricane María was becoming the “worst hurricane in modern history in Puerto Rico.” The hurricane lasted about an entire day. But the majority of the flooding and destruction was caused by the 4 to 8, to even 35 inches, in specific locations of additional rainfall.
“No generation has seen a hurricane like this since San Felipe II in 1928. This is an unprecedented atmospheric system.”
– Ricky Russello
News of the island’s state came slowly to the mainland U.S., and slower still for the people residing on the island. With the majority of the information coming primarily from tweets and other social media platforms, many people were left confused and scared. Below, is a short summary of what has occurred until now.
Support for the island after the devastating hurricane, both federally and domestically, came quickly and efficiently. Already on September 21st, President Donald Trump had issued a Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico. This gave the island access to some federal funds in order to incentivize recuperation after María.
At 1:24, on September 21, Jennifer Gonzalez, the resident commissioner, notified the few people on the island that still had internet—and the thousands of ex-pads anxiously waiting to hear news of their island—that more than 32,000 federal staff were beginning to respond to recovery operations.
At 2:54 PM, on September 23, Governor Ricky Rossello tweeted a picture of a helicopter reaching the island, letting everyone know that FEMA had arrived to the island with water, electric generators and other resources.
That same day, splayed on all the newspapers were these words from the governor’s address:
“A todos los puertorriqueños y puertorriqueñas, sepan que nos levantaremos. Junto con los alcaldes y alcaldesas, como un solo Gobierno.”
“To all the Puerto Rican men and women, know that we will rise. Together with our mayors, as one, sole government.”
– The Governor, speaking on behalf of the Puerto Rican government, addressing its citizens.
So began the hashtag that represented all outpouring support for the island: #PRSeLevanta or #PRStrong, in English.
In an extremely fanatic two-party system, the island’s destruction encouraged a new wave of bipartisanship that had never before been seen. Despite this call to civic duty, no one has stopped looking over their shoulders. People have been disseminating ‘warnings’ all over Social Media and
in group messages with friends and family that there have been cases of open stores and houses being robbed at gunpoint in Guaynabo and Bayamon (the heart of the metropolitan center of the island) for generators.
Moreover, even as the government assures its citizens that there is enough diesel for everyone on the island, various news sites have challenged their claim. Eagerly pointing to the government that places in which to get diesel are scarce, and as a result, interminable lines for fuel have formed.
Jay Fonseca, a journalist, radio-host and lawyer, has reported worrisomely violent events. A man in Vega Baja was assaulted for his container of gasoline, and that a gasoline station was shot after announcing that it was closing down. Fonseca also reported that police agents and doctors have not been able to work because of the of the lack of diesel.
“It took six hours in line to only receive 10 gallons of diesel. I can’t even tell you about gasoline. All the gasoline stations have policemen. The gasoline trucks are escorted with policemen.
The entire thing is a debacle.”
– Mari Conway, a resident of Puerto Rico
A curfew from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm that was put into place on Thursday, along with a “Ley Seca” that prohibits stores from selling liquor and citizens from consuming it, was extended to last until Wednesday.