Many communities in Puerto Rico remain cut off and lacking in sufficient aid:
In the days after Hurricane Maria battered this beachside town, tearing off roofs, flooding homes, and toppling trees, few have come to help.
Instead, Milton Rivera Peña, a 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran who has been leading local efforts to cope with the devastation, has worked to marshal resources to clear debris and obtain relief supplies, while working through 90 degree heat amid a scarcity of water. He said the area needs more relief supplies.
“Nothing is left here,” said Mr. Rivera Peña, whose house was flooded with 6 feet of water. “It’s going to take years to recover.”
The town described above, Humacao, is an hour from San Juan. So far, there is still no major relief effort there. Many other communities that are even farther from the capital are presumably in similar or worse straits. A reporter from Mother Jones found another town not far from San Juan that had received no assistance almost two weeks after the hurricane made landfall:
But according to residents, none of those 10,000 federal workers have made it to Ciales, just 45 minutes from San Juan. The storm in this town of 19,000 knocked out the power grid, destroyed entire blocks, and filled streets and homes with a pervasive chocolate-brown mud. Everyone we talked to in Ciales—young and old, residents of public housing and private homes, and even the mayor—complained about the local, Puerto Rican, and federal response to the disaster.
Ciales is one of many towns facing the same issues, and therefore just one of the many problems the federal and local government has on its hands in Puerto Rico.
Some of the residents are calling their town the “town of the forgotten,” and unfortunately they have good reason to feel that way. These stories underscore how urgent the situation in Puerto Rico is and how desperately these communities throughout the island need immediate assistance. There are undoubtedly real obstacles to distributing aid across the island in the wake of the hurricane, but that is why the federal government should be providing even more resources, manpower, and equipment to overcome them. The people in these isolated communities are doing the best they can to help themselves, but they still need much more help.