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Hurricane Maria Rundown

One month ago, on September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, not long after it had already been affected by Hurricane Irma. People were left without power, fuel, water services, even food and shelter. Four weeks later the situation is still dire, and the U.S. government could be doing more to he

The Trump administration has been infamously hesitant in their response to the disaster, with Trump even making a snide aside to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis in a tweet. You’ve probably also seen the footage of Trump throwing paper towels into the crowd at a Puerto Rican relief centre (or at least you’ve seen the ensuing memes).

These actions speak to a woeful neglect of Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens. Even more astonishing, many mainland Americans are unaware that inhabitants of the U.S. organized territories — Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands — are U.S. citizens, though they cannot vote in federal elections. Yes, you heard that right: the U.S. government has been holding out on providing aid to its own citizens.

Trump recently tweeted that they can’t help Puerto Rico indefinitely. To top it off, in a meeting this afternoon with Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Rosselló, Trump is said to have given his administration’s response to the crisis a 10 out of 10, despite widespread public criticism. Trump asked Rosselló: “Did the United States, did our government, when we came in, did we do a great job?” to which Rosselló replied only: “You responded immediately sir.”

Despite the media focus on Puerto Rico, other islands are also in dire need of aid in the wake of the hurricanes. The U.S. Virgin Islands appears to have been almost entirely overlooked by the government to the point that Trump was unaware that he was their President too (cue more memes). Barbuda, which was hit by Hurricane Irma on September 6th, is now uninhabitable and has been entirely evacuated.

 While government aid may have been inconsistent, regular citizens have stepped up to provide assistance. Donations and aid from charities, including United for Puerto Rico, the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program, have been helping and continue to help recovery on the islands.

As a broke university student, you may not have the funds to contribute — believe me, I feel you — but do you have $1.29 to buy a song on iTunes? Do you like to stream music on Spotify? Then I implore you to check out Almost Like Praying by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton, In the Heights, and Moana fame), featuring various artists from Puerto Rico, such as Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, Gina Rodriguez and Anthony Ramos.

Proceeds from this track go to the Hispanic Federation for hurricane recovery efforts. It’s a boppin’ tune that sure to get you head nodding, yet carries a note of melancholy as well; in short, it is a perfect illustration of  how tragedy, hope and a desire come together. 

We are a global civilization. Let’s help where we can. Stay woke, UBC.

 

Photo credits: vox.com, queerty.com, twitter.com, theguardian.com, globalnews.ca, imgur.com, genius.com, advocate.com,

 

Avery is a second-year student at the University of British Columbia, where she is exploring her innumerable and possibly not very practical interests. She hails from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and has plans to do much more travelling before she gets too tired. If given a choice she would much rather have gone to Hogwarts, but readily admits that UBC is a close second. Her most notable talent is an uncanny ability to quote Hamilton during almost any conversation.
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