We Deserve Better.
Newsflash from Puerto Rico:
– The Trump Administration did not do a “fantastic job” in any way, shape or form – Nothing about the response to Hurricane Maria could be deemed an “incredible unsung success" – We do not “under-appreciate” the inadequate failure of a federal response – There is not one piece of the relief or recovery landscape that resembles anything close to “the best job”
President Trump came here on a day that we will never forget: at the most treacherous moment for our island in the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria, he trivialized the unfathomable magnitude of a still-mounting crisis and threw paper towels into a crowd. Paper towels. A mockery, a disgrace, a horror.
We always knew far more than 64 people died in and after the hurricane, but a recent correction in the official death count to 2,975 is tragically on par with the most deadly, horrific events in American history — yet Trump goes on trivializing, belittling, even ridiculing the harsh, painful, fragile reality for millions of citizens of the United States of America here on the ground.
The infuriating, appalling, horrendous truths about disastrous failures in local, islandwide and federal government response to Hurricane Maria continue to reveal themselves — like the photos that went viral yesterday and today of millions of water bottles on an airport runway at the old Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba.
This is not breaking news, but it IS a travesty. FEMA has had/known about this water since its arrival on the island in October of last year, as have many of us here in Puerto Rico. I had drone footage of the already unusable bottled water that a close friend filmed and showed to me in February. I shared with media, but no one thought it mattered enough to dig deeper and, of course, we were not allowed access to the property to test it for human consumption, use or distribute the water in any way. So our indefatigable #ChefsForPuertoRico team continued to scratch-cook nutritious meals for the most vulnerable populations in remote parts of the island and purchase whatever potable we could find to deliver to those in need.
After suffering, struggling and surviving with no running water for months on end, no power for upwards of a year, no roads or windows or roofs, too many Puerto Ricans still live under blue tarps today, while plastic leaches into the once-precious water supply and a delusional government rewrites history without any meaningful improvements for, significant investments in or adequate plans to meet ongoing recovery needs, build resiliency and prepare for future emergencies amid a hurricane season with extreme weather that is mounting, intensifying and wreaking havoc here in the Caribbean and beyond.
We all deserve better than this: Puerto Ricans, Americans, people of the world.