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Storms Continue to Threaten Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico residents lost power and water when Hurricane Irma grazed the Island. Hurricane Jose, a Category 1 Hurricane, may still make landfall on Puerto Rico as it heads for New England. At the same time, Hurricane Maria — currently a Category 5 hurricane — is heading toward the territory.

Google Alert predicts that the danger of the hurricane to people and property in Puerto Rico will be “extreme,” “catastrophic,” and “devastating.” Floods, impassable roads, and power outages are expected. People have been ordered to evacuate. “Flood prone areas must be abandoned,” Public Security Secretary Héctor Pesquera was quoted as saying by ABC News. “If not, you will die.”

It’s hurricane season, and the water surrounding Puerto Rico is just one degree higher than average, but that’s enough to fuel big storms. The cash-strapped territory’s infrastructure hasn’t been maintained for many years, so the systems that sustain electric power, running water, and waste disposal are all unusually vulnerable. The people of Puerto Rico turned out to help their neighboring islands after Hurricane Irma, but Maria might make landfall in the interior of Puerto Rico. The damage from Hurricane Irma, estimated at $1,000,000,000, has not yet been repaired and the debris hasn’t yet been cleared.

Imagine you’re heading out on a road trip with an unreliable radiator and $10.00 in your pocket. You might not make it far before your radiator fails, and you won’t be able to afford a new one. There’s a sense in which you can predict that there will be some problems along the way, even if you can’t say with certainty what those problems will be or when they’ll arise. You might be lucky enough to find some additional source of cash along the way, or you might get hotter weather than usual and be unable to baby the ramshackle car along.

Puerto Rico, to finish up the metaphor, can’t choose not to take the road trip. The radiator — that is, the infrastructure of roads and utilities — limped through Hurricane Irma, and some additional funds are expected from the federal government.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló met with Tom Bossert, an assistant to President Trump for Homeland Security who coordinates federal assistance for natural disasters. They discussed that federal support, and exchanged supportive tweets later.

“I want to thank @Tom Bossert45, adviser to the US president for Homeland Security, for his leadership and support in Puerto Rico’s recovery process,” Governor Rosselló tweeted.

Bossert’s response, translated into English: “Thanks @ RicardoRosselló for your leadership. Puerto Rico has the support of the President of the United States and mine.”


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