The catastrophic 155 mph winds of Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, leaving the 3.5 million population without power and sending the island straight back to basics. Now, the Caribbean destination has only regained 16% of its power, and the aftermath of the disaster continues to impact the lives of the people. It’s challenging to comprehend what you would do and how you would survive if you and our family were without power for a long period of time. However, that has become the reality for millions of people, and they are still on the island struggling to get by.
So, what are the challenges the people of Puerto Rico are facing and how are they dealing with the situation now the dust has settled? The following are the most prevalent issues facing the population during the aftermath of the strongest storm to hit US territory in over 100 years.
A Rise In Health Problems And The Death Toll
After nearly three weeks after Maria hit Puerto Rico; the death toll has risen to 45. Authorities say that there are also more than 113 people who have been unaccounted for, meaning the numbers could rise further in the coming days and weeks. Recovery efforts have been slow since the catastrophic storm on September 20th, which hasn’t been helped by the lack of power on the island, and the ability to get medical attention to those in need.
Aside from those who are unaccounted for; the deterioration in the health of some of Puerto Rico’s population is expected to increase the number of fatalities as a result of the hurricane. Hospitals on the island were already struggling for funds, and now medicine is running low, and there isn’t any access to fuel or power. Generator failure has resulted in some patients being transferred to the navy hospital ship; however, others have been left in areas with no power.
Now, the major risks to people’s health seem to be spreading through the water. There have already been some fatalities from leptospirosis, which comes from animal urine in drinking water. There are also many dead and drowned animals in the water throughout the island, so disease and infection seem to be spreading and on the rise.
Lack Of Communication And Amenities
With so little power across the storm-struck island; communication and amenities are at a minimum. CEO of Q-Link, the main telecom provider, Issa Asad, has provided the island with unlimited text messages and minutes for the limited number of working cellphones the population are using. Humanitarian efforts are being made to get food, medicine, clean water, and generators to as many residents as possible. However, it’s very much a day-by-day relief effort, and Puerto Ricans are still queuing up for hours to receive their basic needs and whatever amenities they can get hold of.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is requesting more than $4 billion from an array of agencies, leaders, and officials so that the island can meet their needs and begin to rebuild successfully. If communication, adequate aid, and relief are not provided sufficiently soon; there could be a potential exodus of Puerto Rico’s inhabitants, which could save hundreds of lives and give the island a fighting chance of recovery.