Over a month after the devastating Hurricane Maria hit the coasts of Puerto Rico, the country still faces new and worsening problems every single day. Medical supplies are still scarce, and even now, six weeks after the hurricane originally hit, 70% of Puerto Rico is still without power. Lakeland Electric, a utility company based in Central Florida, has been conducting assistance for Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit. The company spent some time negotiating a contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings, a Montana-based company which was hired to oversee the restoration of the island’s power grid. Eventually, on Saturday, October 28, the first linemen arrived in San Juan to begin repairs. However, by Sunday, Puerto Rican officials had grown frustrated and decided to cancel the contract with Whitefish. Due to the difficulties caused by the process of getting aid, a majority of Puerto Rico still remains without power.
Other supply deliveries are not faring very well, either. The Jones Act, originally passed in 1920 to promote American trade, is a law which is currently prohibiting foreign-based ships from bringing supplies to the island. Though there was a waiver in place, according to the New York Times, the administration has allowed it to expire, making it more difficult to bring important supplies such as food, water and medical care to Puerto Rico. The death toll due to Hurricane Maria is up to 54, and many people are still missing.
Despite issues with power restoration and emergency aid, not all hope is lost for the island. One local organization, named Hope for Puerto Rico, has gathered tens of thousands of volunteers to supply aid to Puerto Rico in the form of meal kits. Based in Orlando, the Hope for Puerto Rico event took 19 days. Over 54,000 volunteers packaged 4.4 million meal kits to send to Puerto Rico. Additionally, NBC News has posted an article with the various ways you can help the island recover from this disaster. UNICEF, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are all charities which you can donate to in order to assist Puerto Rico; volunteering or donating supplies are also ways to contribute. Those looking to help can view the full article at www.nbcnews.com/better/health/how-help-puerto-rico-right-now-ncna808331 .
By Rachel Smith
Research provided in part by USA Today
Photograph provided by HECTOR RETAMAL/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES