Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Historically the disaster event which befalls a region is not the big destroyer of human life. What comes afterwards is.
Before the era of global telecommunications and the ability of highly capitalized nations to respond utilizing their every ready military assets, a flood or an earthquake might strike a region and initially kill a few to a few thousands of people in the area. It is in the weeks and months afterwards that the majority of suffering and death decimate the population. Crop destruction and the inability to mobilize the next planting season typically spelled doom for the region. Standing in stagnant water in low-lying areas brought infection, dysentery and other highly treatable diseases (by today's standard). Herds of livestock being drowned or otherwise cut off from feed left them as vulnerable as the human population. The approaching winter might also take the lives of people who could not pack in the food preserves, firewood or other heating fuels. Potable water not being available would kill the fastest.
The most recent hurricane to strike Puerto Rico has disrupted the entire island to the extent that there is zero electric grid, roads are washed and blow away, water supplies are polluted and the land is strewn with debris. The approximately 3.5 million inhabitants of the island remain in place while the entire infrastructure is disrupted. After the initial drownings, heart attacks and being struck with airborne debris the hunger, dehydration, and disease begin to take their toll. Anyone who was at risk in the first place is also certain to suffer disproportionately. People in need of daily medications such as insulin are at high risk. Dialysis patients and people compromised with respiratory problems will not have machines and A/C that function. Even here in the States, 7 Miami nursing home residents died from lack of A/C in a facility across the street from a hospital.
Unless Puerto Rico receives mobilization of manpower, machines and energy, food and water many people will die of the secondary impacts of the hurricane. One cannot contemplate the rescue of masses of people in terms of dollars and ROI. The President's characterization of the electric grid for being decrepit is now moot. The entire system will need to be replaced at a cost of billions. There is no honest way for Puerto Ricans to ever pay that bill in taxes or utility fees. Although not citizens of any state they are Americans nonetheless. They deserve all the rights and benefits every citizen needs.
We, as One Nation, must act to preserve and repair any and all devastation whenever and wherever it occurs. Time is of the essence. People without shelter can survive months. Without food for weeks but only days without water. Where is our government action and vocal concern for these people? We have the resources. We need the will.