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FEMA decides Puerto Rico doesn’t need any more assistance—these stats disagree

FEMA decides Puerto Rico doesn’t need any more assistance—these stats disagree
[Photo: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture]

Four months after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, decimating the island’s already fragile infrastructure, cutting residents off from food and water, and leaving people without electricity or cell phone service, the island is still slowly rebuilding–with many residents still lacking basic necessities.

That hasn’t stopped FEMA from announcing it will cut off food and water aid for the island’s residents. According to NPR, after handing out more than 30 million gallons of drinking water and 60 million meals, FEMA will “officially shut off” the supplies of food and water tomorrow. Remaining stores will be handed over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing. Based on FEMA’s analysis, only about 1% of islanders still need emergency food and water, which seems to signal FEMA’s belief that the humanitarian crisis is drawing to a close.

That’s not particularly surprising, considering that the last time President Trump directly addressed the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico–back in November–he said that the island was “doing well.”

[Photo: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture]
While there is conflicting data about the progress of recovery efforts, here are some recent statistics from news accounts and other sources:

  • As of Monday, about 31% of the island had not regained electricity, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
  • Experts say some parts of the island are not expected to get power back until next spring.
  • Some homes were so damaged they were unable to receive electricity, per the New York Times.
  • In the municipality of Morovis, Mayor Carmen Maldonado told NPR that about 10,000 of her 30,000 residents are still receiving FEMA’s food and water rations.
  • Statistics from Puerto Rico’s government claim that power has been restored to about 80% of the island, while fresh water has been restored to 96% of the territory’s residents.
  • The National Resources Defense Council strongly disagrees with FEMA’s assessment that island residents have access to clean drinking water. They published a report in May showing that in 2015, 99.5% of Puerto Ricans—virtually all residents–were served by water sources that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, which they claim has not improved.
  • Recovery is still underway. The Atlantic has some pretty startling photos of the devastated homes and infrastructure still waiting to be rebuilt.

ML