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A desperate cry for help

Puerto Rico continues to suffer a year later after Hurricane Maria

Maria+is+still+here%3A+Over+2%2C500+were+killed+after+Maria+hit+Puerto+Rico.++According+to+CNN%2C+it%27s+the+second+deadliest+U.S+storm+in+over+a+century.
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A desperate cry for help

Maria is still here: Over 2,500 were killed after Maria hit Puerto Rico.  According to CNN, it's the second deadliest U.S storm in over a century.

Maria is still here: Over 2,500 were killed after Maria hit Puerto Rico. According to CNN, it's the second deadliest U.S storm in over a century.

Maria is still here: Over 2,500 were killed after Maria hit Puerto Rico. According to CNN, it's the second deadliest U.S storm in over a century.

Maria is still here: Over 2,500 were killed after Maria hit Puerto Rico. According to CNN, it's the second deadliest U.S storm in over a century.

Kennedy Curtis, News Writer

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In September 2017,  Hurricane Maria devastatingly swept through Puerto Rico, causing a mass amount of destruction throughout the U.S. territory. But even after 14 months when Maria hit, the people of Puerto Rico are still being negatively affected economically, environmentally, and mentally.

According to the Atlantic, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico earlier in the week. Due to the sustained winds of 155 mph and 30 inches of rain, the infrastructure was majorly damaged. Numerous houses and buildings were completely destroyed and many roads were blocked from the debris. The entire power grid was shut down which disabled any communication from the outside world.

This prevented H-F Guidance Office Secretary Maria Davis from contacting her family, who lives in San Lorenzo, for a period of time. She said after Maria hit that she was “devastated”.

“I felt like I couldn’t do much,” Davis said. “It’s really hard when you have your hands tied up.”

The damage also delayed Puerto Ricans from receiving supplies, such as medicine, food, and water.

“The fact that the island isn’t connected to a major highway to the United States makes it more difficult to get personnel down there because the infrastructure was damaged,” H-F Economics teacher Nick Anello said.

Anello said though Maria has mainly had consequences for the Puerto Rican economy it will eventually affect other global economies, especially the U.S.

According to CNN, Puerto Rico is a primary supplier of IV bags to our country. Because of their failing economy this caused a shortage of IV bags imported to America. Anello said this “could be potentially very dangerous and increase the death count.”

The estimated price to pay for re-building is about $139 billion however Puerto Rico’s financial problems occurred long before Maria. The U.S territory was already in a huge amount of debt, owing $74 billion and an additional $53 billion in unfunded pensions, according to CNBC.

This makes Puerto Rico a target for disaster capitalism, which is when large companies offer to help clean up the destruction of natural disasters for a high price. After the clean up is completed Puerto Rico will be left with stronger infrastructure, but with no money to move forward and no ownership of their land.

Along with a financial crisis, Puerto Ricans have to worry about the state of their environment. Sources of clean water are scarce after their sewage system leaked into their main supply of water. Because of this many residents are at risk of getting leptospirosis, a bacterial illness caused by the contact of urine in water as well as other dangerous contaminations.

Even with the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), finding clean water is still a recurring problem. Last August, numerous cases of both water and food were discovered a year after they were sent to Puerto Rico, unopened and  not distributed to the victims.

This causes distress for Davis because she believes that “the government could’ve done much more,” but they didn’t because Puerto Rico isn’t physically in the U.S., meaning there’s a perspective they aren’t really a part of our country. However, she strongly believes that this isn’t an excuse.

“We are a part of the United States, we’ve been a part of the United States all our lives. We should’ve been helped,” Davis said. “It’s not about race or color. It’s about being human, having a heart.”

H-F Spanish teacher Stefanie Camilli agrees with this.

“I think with Puerto Rico being a territory of the United States we had some obligations to really help,” Camilli said. “We as Americans need to help those people first and foremost.”

But one of the most devastating aspects of Hurricane Maria is how it affected the mentality of Puerto Rico, causing its inhabitants to feel depressed, anxious, and even suicidal.

Puerto Rico’s suicide rates have increased by 29%. According to H-F Psychology teacher Terri Davis,a traumatic event can heavily influence our daily lives. By having lost their loved ones and no home to return to, Puerto Ricans can easily get stuck in a mindset of negativity and depression, leading them to suicide.

“Sometimes the brain gets stuck in this downward spiral once we experience any bad tragic event in our life,” Davis said, “We feel like there is no way out of our situation.”

There are some suicide prevention hotlines but they aren’t as effective because parts of Puerto Rico are still without electricity.

Despite all the unfortunate circumstances that Puerto Rico has been through, Davis continues to have faith that her native country will survive and get through this difficult time.

“We are strong people, we haven’t lost our spirits. With God’s help they’ll be able to get through what they need to get through,” Davis said.

 

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