BRISTOL - Locals weighed in on the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico Wednesday and whether they believe the federal government’s response in the wake of Hurricane Maria has been adequate.
Hurricane Maria was the strongest hurricane to strike Puerto Rico in nearly 100 years. The hurricane killed 16 people in Puerto Rico, and 28 others in the Caribbean.
Lack of clean drinking water and electricity, damage to infrastructure and fuel and food shortages are among the many issues Puerto Ricans are dealing with a week after the storm hit.
Tuesday, President Donald Trump posted a video to his Twitter page detailing his actions on the crisis.
“We’re doing everything in our power to help the people of both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” said Trump. “A massive effort is underway; as we speak FEMA, our great first responders, and all available federal resources including the military are being marshaled to save lives and protect families and begin a long and very, very difficult restoration process. I have directed all relevant departments and agencies to assist in the response and recovery effort. As Governor (Ricardo) Rossello just told me this morning, the entire federal work force is doing great work in Puerto Rico. Our team has been incredible after having gone through Texas and Florida. Through the Trump Administration’s leadership the relationship between FEMA and my team is very, very strong.”
Trump will be traveling to the island Tuesday to meet with first responders and people affected by the storm.
Hollis St. Germain, of Bristol, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, said that he was impressed with President Trump’s response.
“It was an act of nature; I can’t believe all the poor people that are underwater,” he said. “The government response has been very good; I’m impressed. They got in the troops and the National Guard. I’m really surprised; they’re helping a lot.”
But Connecticut’s congressional delegation said much more can and should be done to help those who have suffered and lost so much.
“Every one of the people who live in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands are Americans. First and foremost they are Americans who are going through one of the toughest periods of their lives, a time that no American wants to face alone,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “You are not alone in this humanitarian crisis. Congress will act. We will provide the kind of relief package, food, medicine, whatever supplies are necessary not only to endure and survive, but to eventually thrive.”
Mari Anne St. Germaine, of Bristol, said that she was personally against rebuilding Puerto Rico. “I don’t think we should rebuild; I think the Puerto Ricans should move someplace else,” she said.
Jesse Hurlburt, of Terryville, said that it will be a “long road” to get Puerto Rico back on its feet.
“They already had huge debts before the hurricane came through,” he said. “But I think that government should be responsible for providing at least some immediate aid to get their infrastructure back up and running. Give them the aid first and then other discussions can be had in the long term.”
Joey Otero, of Glastonbury, said that while people will say that there is always “more that we can do” there isn’t much more that can be done.
“People talk about us needing to do more but how many are actually going out and doing it?” he asked.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty said the Trump administration should have moved more quickly in assessing the needs of those impacted by the hurricane and in sending aid. “There are vibrant Puerto Rican communities across Connecticut, with many families still having direct ties back to the island. We have watched our friends, families, and loved ones lose their homes, their businesses, their schools, and everything they own. And Congress’s lagging response in addressing the seriousness of the situation, and providing the necessary aid vital to their recovery, has only added to their heartbreak.
Carl Zenetti, of Bristol, said that he believes that Trump is doing as much as he can to help.
“Puerto Rico is an island and as I understand they don’t have a lot of raw materials on hand - most are shipped in or flown in,” he said. “I heard this morning that they are looking for people with a CDL (commercial driver’s license) to take supplies from the airports into the areas that are without power. The government is going everything that it can but they could also put out some additional bulletins calling on volunteers and truck drivers.”
With Associated Press reports.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.