The United States fails to aid Puerto Rico after natural disaster strikes

As the earthquakes continue to strike Puerto Rico, damage to buildings, houses, and public facilities has left island destroyed.

As the earthquakes continue to strike Puerto Rico, damage to buildings, houses, and public facilities has left island destroyed.

A large series of earthquakes have struck Puerto Rico these past few months, mainly affecting the southwest portion of the island. These earthquakes have left Puerto Rico in complete devastation, and the United States intervention has left the island hopeless for any restoration in the near future.

Starting in late December, the earthquakes have continued to progress into 2020 and are still frequently occurring in the month of February. A startling 11 earthquakes in Puerto Rico were of magnitude 5 or greater, meaning that damage to buildings and other structures was exceptionally prevalent.

The Watchers
As depicted in this map, the series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico have mainly occurred in the southwest portion of the island.

On Jan. 7, the largest and most damaging earthquake struck with a magnitude of 6.4 and a maximum felt the intensity of VII (Very strong) on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale. This earthquake alone left one man killed and several others injured, and was marked as the most damaging quake to impact the island since 1918. 

Despite the fact that Puerto Rico is part of the United States territory, I think that the government has failed to aid the island effectively during these catastrophic events. The U.S. has granted Puerto Rico with $8.3 billion in disaster prevention funds and $8.2 billion in recovery funds, but Puerto Rico has to submit budget plans in order to access this money. Saying this, Puerto Rico can only access the full recovery fund if they follow the spending guide the United States is making them follow.

Many Puerto Ricans are angered by this because only a small portion ($1.5 billion) of the $16.5 billion was directly given to Puerto Rico to help them recover from the earthquakes. Puerto Rico will gradually receive the rest of the money if they follow the spending guidelines, but the island needs a more immediate solution. With an alarming number of impoverished citizens living in the streets, it seems like the U.S. has failed to consider the fact that help in Puerto Rico cannot wait.

“The United States should be responsible for stepping in with aid and other resources to help the people get through this calamity,” said Jennifer Hafner, social studies teacher.

As the number of earthquakes devastating Puerto Rico continues to increase, the cost to repair all of the economic damage increases as well. Analysts have reported that the earthquakes could cost Puerto Rico’s economy up to $3.1 billion due to the fact that damaged public and private property, lost tourism, and lost wages and business from power outages all have to be paid for. In addition to this, Puerto Rico is still suffering from infrastructure damage and economic instability after Hurricane Maria in 2017, making it even more difficult to cope with the earthquakes.

“I think that the U.S. could help Puerto Rico from the disasters they have had not only from the earthquakes but from throughout the years,” said Samantha Leddy, sophomore. “It is especially important since they are an unincorporated territory of the United States and are still waiting on $18 billion in federal funding after the many natural disasters that have struck them and destroyed their cities.”

New York Times
As a result of the earthquakes, many individuals have been seriously injured from collapsing buildings and houses.

I understand why the United States government has implemented the budget plans, as it is a large amount of money and we want it to be spent appropriately in order to ensure that Puerto Rico gets the help they need. Despite this, I think that the United States should have given Puerto Rico the funding money with no restrictions, as the devastation and corruption are beyond recoverable. While thousands of Puerto Ricans are left homeless due to the destruction of their property from the earthquakes, a gradual fund will not provide the right financial demands the island needs right now. 

“I don’t know much about the earthquakes that have hit Puerto Rico, but I do know that it should be the United States’ job to step up and help Puerto Rico during any extreme disaster,” said Anya Shah, junior.

As Puerto Rico continues to suffer from a lot of natural disasters, immediate action needs to be taken by the United States government in order to help the struggling economy and citizens devastated by the earthquakes and aftershocks.