Puerto Rico Struggles After Hurricanes

by Arianna Rundberg

On August 30th 2017, a day that everybody on the south was anticipating for, turned into the most devastating natural disaster that has occurred on the island of Puerto Rico, or as NPR’S Mary Lousie Kelly speaks to Associated Press reporter Danica Coto about the impact of hurricane Irma being the “strongest-ever storm.” As families evacuated and gathered their food items for the “big day,” guarding up windows and doors, preparing for the hurricane that was getting ready to hit, left thousands without much of anything but hope for the best.  

While conducting search and rescue in the mountains of Puerto Rico a CBP Air and Marine Operations Black Hawk located this home a half mile from its peek with HELP painted it is roof. Photo by Kris Grogan/U.S. Customs and Border Protection/UPI

Hurricane Irma made a huge impact on the island of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Irma left 8 of Puerto Rico’s 9 high-voltage power lines damaged. As well as leaving 865,000 customers on the island without electricity and only 600,000 with service.

Hurricane Irma was just the start of what was next to come. Shortly after Hurricane Irma hit the island of Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria hit. CNN reported that “Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with Irma-level winds, drenched the island with Harvey-level flooding, crippled communications, decimated buildings and damaged a dam that puts downstream residents at risk of catastrophe.”

Hurricane Maria left 3.5 million people in Puerto Rico without clean water, communications, or electricity, amid damaged buildings and floodwaters. The island is still left dealing with little clean water and high heat. “Those are perfect conditions for waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases– diarrheal diseases, and things like chikungunya, Zika, and dengue… or worse.” Thousands of families are still left to pick up the pieces of Hurricane Maria.

Even before these two largely impacted hurricanes occurred on the island of Puerto Rico, the island was already declared bankruptcy earlier in the year because of billions of dollars in debt, and its infrastructure is falling apart. The hurricanes were just the icebreaker of having the community of Puerto Rico fall apart. “Irma gave us a break, but Maria destroyed us.” said Edwin Serrano, a construction worker in Old San Juan. These hurricanes left many people helpless and hopeless, losing their homes, food, clothing, etc. These hurricanes were unimaginable in the eyes of the community of Puerto Rico. Now what’s next to come is still lingering in everyone’s mind.

The aftermath of the hurricanes have been very detrimental to Puerto rico. “There’s nothing left. It’s been wiped out. Nobody has ever seen anything like it.” President Trump says, in complete utterly shock of the devastation. Trumps administration is working on coordinating the work recovery, but some have attacked Trump for his response to how he is reacting to the situation. “We are dying, and you are killing us with inefficiency.” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said at a press conference, claiming that the crisis is not being handled.


What is YOUR school doing about it?

In October, Freedom High School accepted donations, raising money, and spreading awareness throughout the school, and even selling “I heart Puerto Rico” shirts to help out Puerto Rico being affected by the hurricanes. Having a goal to give as much as possible, to help those that are in need of food and water, hoping to create some type of positive change in Puerto Rico. As well as allowing students to become part of an uplifting, learning experience, and encouraging everyone to become apart of making a difference. Freedom High School believes in teamwork, hard work, and positivity at its finest, and allowing these donations to be made, shows the positivity spreading throughout the school.