All of the countries hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria are having a bad time. We have seen civil strife and disorder in St. Martin. We have seen the island of Barbuda essentially abandoned. Dominica lays in ruins, and the Turks and Caicos have been hit by BOTH hurricanes.
But the focus of media attention right now is on Puerto Rico, and for good reason, as the island is in desperate straits three days after being devastated by Maria:
A humanitarian crisis began to take hold in Puerto Rico on Saturday, three days after Hurricane Maria hammered the commonwealth, and its most vulnerable citizens were the most exposed.
Health sector workers said the island was nearing a critical moment as some care organizations ran low on fuel for generators. Maritza Lamoso, executive director at Residence Senior Living in the Puerto Nuevo section of San Juan, said she’d put out 20 calls for emergency diesel and been visited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. But as of 1 p.m. Saturday, she still had no fuel.
“If the diesel doesn’t arrive today, I’m going to have to start removing people,” she said from the lobby of the center, adding that two other facilities in the same network were in similar circumstances.
The feeling was more desperate outside the capital city. The north coastal town of Manati had run out of fuel and fresh water, Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said.
“Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity,” he said, crying, according to the Associated Press. “We need someone to help us immediately.”
Puerto Rico is going to struggle immensely to deal with these problems. Years of corruption, recession, and incompetence in policymaking from Washington have left Puerto Rico bankrupt. Much of the island’s infrastructure is in ruins and the government is warning it will take months to get just the electricity running.
The government is struggling right now just to avert a humanitarian crisis. Stocks of food and water are running low, and getting more food will be a big problem. Communications across the island are mostly down, except for San Juan. Hospitals are not going to be able to function with the power off.
There is no chance for any government assistance in rebuilding peoples’ homes. The economy, or what’s left of it, is likely to completely roll over with businesses destroyed. I think the situation in Puerto Rico is so bad now that either a government bailout is going to happen or else Puerto Rico’s creditors will have to accept a 100% loss on the debt.