Puerto Rico Wasn’t The Only Thing Destroyed By Hurricane Maria

Two weeks ago, on September 20, Hurricane Maria completely devastated the island of Puerto Rico. The 150 mile per hour winds caused approximately $90 billion worth of damage and 34 total deaths. According to a report by The Guardian, “95 percent of electricity customers remain without power, including some hospitals” and “Rosselló [Puerto Rico’s governor] has said that he hoped 25 percent of electricity customers would have power by the end of October.”  It has also been reported that 1.5 million people, which is 44 percent of the country’s population, does not have access to clean drinking water.

Donald Trump’s response to the situation on the island has been less than sympathetic. It took Trump two weeks to even get to Puerto Rico to assess the damage left by the hurricane and he has made some less than appropriate comments before, during, and after his visit on Tuesday. Trump tweeted that the mayor of San Juan was not doing her job saying, “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.” He is also on record telling local Puerto Rican officials during his visit, “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.” Trump also congratulated the country for avoiding a high death toll of “a real catastrophe like Katrina.” Not to mention the fact that Trump used an exaggerated Spanish accent to pronounce “Puerto Rico” during a speech he made for a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Friday.

The president tweeted on October 3, “I am so proud of our great Country. God bless America!” and in my opinion, this one tweet sums up the past eight and a half months he has held office. Trump is so hyper focused on “Making America Great Again” that he refuses to recognize that it is his words and actions that are having the exact opposite effect. And his treatment of Puerto Rico is just one in a long list of failed opportunities he has had to step up and make a real impact.

First, regarding his statement about the U.S. budget, Puerto Rico is a United States territory and is represented in the House of Representatives. So, as a country, we should find no problem with helping one of own in their time of extreme need.

Second, to Trump’s credit, he is correct in saying that the Hurricane Maria death toll is significantly less than the Hurricane Katrina death toll of 1,800. However, regardless of how many people died in each of the storms, devastation has still occurred. The lives of people in New Orleans were absolutely destroyed, and the same has occurred for the people of Puerto Rico. And for the families and friends of those who have died by the hands of Hurricane Maria, they feel the same sense of grief of those who lost friends and family in Katrina. Numbers have no relation to the emotional despair the people of Puerto Rico are experiencing after losing their friends, family, homes, and way of life.

And lastly, making fun of a Puerto Rican accent during a speech about the devastation of the country was exactly the wrong move. It was extremely disrespectful and quite frankly, totally inappropriate (sadly, much like many of the comments he has made in the past).

Trump’s treatment of Puerto Rico marks a new low for the president. Trump is proud of our “great country” that will allow Puerto Rico to suffer because their devastation is messing up our budget. It is absolutely appalling. And just as the hurricane has destroyed the entire Caribbean island, I believe that Trump’s response to the country has made a significant dent in destroying his career as well.