Don’t forget about Puerto Rico

Kellie Nock

Seven months ago, Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico. It ravaged the islands, causing major infrastructural damage and a weakened power grid. Even now, so many months later, many parts of the island are without power or working electricity. 

Wednesday, Puerto Rico suffered another island-wide blackout. All electrical services on the island were gone, and, according to Associated Press News, it took around 24 to 36 hours to get everything back up and running again. Imagine not having power in your entire city, your entire state or country for more than 24 hours. It may not seem like one day is that long, but consider hospitals. How does a hospital work without electricity for 24 hours? Without being able to use most of its equipment? What about all the people in critical condition? 

Three million U.S. citizens live in Puerto Rico, and the United States has provided little to no aid to those in need. The argument that “they are not a part of the U.S.” doesn’t make sense here, as Puerto Rico is indeed American territory. And even if it weren’t, we should be willing to help any ally, regardless of citizenship status. 

So what’s the holdup?

Why is the American government dragging its feet on this issue, which is clearly important and urgent? These are people in need. Imagine a statewide blackout; imagine if that happened here, in Ohio, and not a single one of us helped after said natural disaster. It’s hard to conceive, right? The U.S. had Hurricane Katrina happen 13 years ago. Surely, we must have learned our lesson by now. The response to Hurricane Irma, which caused damage to several parts of Florida, was vastly different from that of Hurricane Maria. Why don’t we send the National Guard to Puerto Rico? Hurricane season is swiftly approaching, and if these sorts of power outages are still happening seven months after Maria, then how can Puerto Rico possibly be prepared for another, without any aid from the United States? 

As important as President Trump believes his wall to be, or any of the other issues he babbles about on a daily basis, helping the people of Puerto Rico is far more necessary at the moment. Send the National Guard there. And if you don’t want to do that, provide any other resources that we can muster to help the people of Puerto Rico. As time passes, who knows what natural disasters will come next? How many more Hurricane Irmas do we need before we understand? How bad is it going to get before we actually lend a hand, a hand that we are more than able to lend?

It’s not a matter of if we can; it’s that we should.

Kellie Nock is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].