Puerto Rico: A territory in distress


Written by Eric Grossarth and Yakshinee Boodoo. 

The country of Puerto Rico still found themselves in distress a week after the third major hurricane of the season.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Maria slammed into the island of almost 4 million people on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2017, with wind speeds upward of 155 miles per hour, creating one of the largest logistical challenges for disaster recovery agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency”FEMA”.

“I was mainly worried on where my family would be; would they find shelter in time?” said Edwin Figueroa, a junior studying exercise physiology from Puerto Rico. “I prayed for that their houses would not blow away; I prayed that they will be safe. I just felt worried and concerned.”

Those with friends and families in Puerto Rico during the hurricane tried to connect to their family and friends in any way that they could.

“After 14 days, I finally heard from my family,” said Tatiana Raquel, a BYU-I student from Puerto Rico. “My stepmother had to drive up north of the island so she could make the call.”

Alex Esparda, a freshman studying exercise physiology, said the devastation is extensive.

“Power is out; anything that’s wooden made is absolutely destroyed,” Esparda said.

Restoring power has become one of the major issues in the efforts to restore Puerto Rico to a functioning nation.

“There were 54 municipalities that were declared as ‘zonas de desastres,'” Raquel said. “My family lives in two of those areas.”

She said her family members’ homes have been destroyed, and they lost everything they own.

In addition to the loss of property, the nation’s infrastructure has been destroyed, leaving many of those in the nation without drinkable water.

After talking to her family, Requel said that there has been little to no improvement delivering supplies that are so desperately needed.

“Puerto Rico was already in bad shape financially, the economy over there before the hurricane,” Esparda said. “And so, the hurricane only made it worse.”

He is encouraging everyone who can to donate to the relief of Puerto Rico.

“It’s definitely not the best situation and hopefully things can be done to help them,” Esparda said. “I know there is a lot of humanitarian aid being put in to help them out.”

According to FEMA, there are several ways to help with the disaster recovery efforts of Hurricane Maria.

“As with previous storms, the most effective means to support the recovery of communities affected by Hurricane Maria is to donate time or money to trusted voluntary-, faith- and community-based charitable organizations,” FEMA released in a recent statement.

In an official statement released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “There is currently great need existing in Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands…The Church is mobilizing humanitarian resources to help. This includes providing food, water and other commodities to the islands in that region. Additional supplies will be sent in the future to help with recovery and reconstruction efforts as we better assess the situation.”