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Puerto Rico Helps Neighbors after Hurricane Irma

Puerto Rico suffered from Hurricane Irma and will continue to do so, but things are looking up. The storm didn’t hit Puerto Rico square on, but instead gave the Island a glancing blow. The lights are back on in 90 percent of the Island, and the work of rebuilding has begun.

The people of Puerto Rico have been helping their neighbors who were harder hit. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from other Caribbean islands to Puerto Rico over the weekend, where they were provided with shelter and assisted in moving on to their destinations in the States. Puerto Rico government and National Guard personnel were joined by National Guardsmen from Kentucky and New York in the effort.

Since then, thousands more have arrived in Puerto Rico. The Island has sustained nearly $1 billion in damages, according to current estimates, but is getting electricity back in service faster than expected. That makes it possible for Puerto Rico to provide medical care to evacuees from other parts of the Caribbean.

While people from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have expressed frustration over the lack of information between the States and the islands, Puerto Rico has stepped up and become an emergency services hub for the other islands.

The organizations working to help the evacuees, mostly U.S. citizens from the U.S. Virgin Islands, included the State Department, the National Guard, the Federal Affairs Administration, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the Ports Authority, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Family Affairs, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross.

Former Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila also praised the ordinary citizens of Puerto Rico. “Puerto Ricans are collecting goods to send to the islands, people are taking their private boats to go over there and bring water,” Vila was quoted as saying in WTop. “We need to be proud of what we’re doing regarding our neighbors in the islands.”

Individuals are sailing from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands carrying drinkable water, and bringing back evacuees. While most of the evacuees are U.S. citizens, there are also French, Dutch, and British citizens seeking help. Governor Rossello estimates that Puerto Rico will provide emergency services for some 4,000 people in all.

President Trump is planning to visit Puerto Rico to see the damage first-hand. Governor Rossello has been in Washington, working with Resident Commissioner Gonzalez-Colon to make sure that the post-hurricane rebuilding is done with an eye toward Puerto Rico’s future.

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