Rep. Gutierrez: People of Puerto Rico experiencing 'cruel and inhumane kind of treatment'
Rep. Louis Gutierrez returned from surveying the damage in Puerto Rico from hurricane Maria and made some incendiary remarks about the relief efforts on the island.
REID: "Just over a month since hurricane MARIA made landfall in Puerto Rico, more than 4 in 5 homes have no power and almost 3 in 10 lack clean drinking water. Congressman, the administration has given themselves a 10 out of 10. You’re there on the ground. What grade would you give them?"
GUTIERREZ: "Look, I just came from visiting communities that have been destroyed. I mean, really, joy, babies living in tents designed for going out maybe camping a couple of days, senior citizens without oxygen in their tank. I went out with the majority leader of the Puerto Rico Senate and I got to tell you something, it’s really cruel, it’s really cruel, inhumane kind of treatment. I met this gorgeous little caribbean princess, 13 years old. You know where she’s living? In a stable where horses were once attended to. That’s the kind of desperation. Remember, there are hundreds of thousands of people homeless, probably 700,000 who are homes Thor uninhabitable with no roofs, completely destroyed. They haven’t lefislands. They’re with neighbors or friends just barely surviving. Three and four families living in the same home."
What Gutierrez doesn't say and what is rarely mentioned in coverage of the Puerto Rico disaster, is that the island is unlike any community on the mainland. Puerto Rico is basically a third world country. Even before the hurricane, its rickety, antiquated electrical grid was in need of repair. The hurricane destroyed much of it, which means rebuilding from scratch.
The water problem is common in third world countries following a disaster and also needs modernizing.
The biggest problem in Puerto Rico is the incompetence and corruption of government officials whose preparations for the aftermath of the hurricane were almost non existent. No truck drivers to deliver thousands of tons of aid that was sitting on the docks. There was apparently little in the way of plans to restore the electrical grid - even temporarily. No stockpiles of food and water to take care of people after the storm. All of this was the job of local officials who either didn't know what they were doing, or hoped for the best as far as the potential damage from the storm.
Island leaders expected the federal government to do just about everything. But that's not how FEMA is set up, nor other federal agencies who are supposed to assist local authorities in recovery. I suppose Gutierrez thinks its racist to criticize the local officials and their inadequate planning and response to the crisis. But blame for the slow recovery lies almost completely with local authorities.