An aerial image of Puerto Rico captured by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite on Monday night lays bare the bleak nature of the island’s power crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The NOAA’s Twitter account released the image on Monday side-by-side with a picture of Puerto Rico from late July in a powerful juxtaposition. The entire island’s power grid was knocked out by Hurricane Maria on Wednesday, meaning that generators are the only viable source of electricity for residents at the moment. And according to Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló the island is unlikely to regain power for months due to its “old, mishandled, and weak” infrastructure.
Here is an image captured by a NOAA satellite in late July, well before Puerto Rico felt the brunt of Hurricane Maria’s force:
And here’s what the island looks like now:
Although FEMA has pledged to dip into the $15.3 billion aid package approved by Congress to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey in order to provide hurricane relief to Puerto Rico, the executive branch seems more interested in providing analysis than assistance. Donald Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico thrice Monday night and lamented the “billions of dollars… owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with,” in reference to the territory’s recent financial woes.
Trump tweeted about the situation again on Tuesday morning with a promise of “much food and water there/on way.”
Moving forward, Puerto Rico faces a number of challenges. Hurricane Maria damaged many of the island’s harbors and airports, making it difficult for aid workers to reach those who need assistance. Lack of communication capabilities due to the destruction of most of the island’s cell phone towers also complicates the situation. Reports indicate that many hospitals are quickly reaching maximum capacity.
To combat these myriad issues, Governor Rosselló plans on asking for further financial assistance from the federal government. “We’re going to request waivers and other mechanisms so Puerto Rico can respond to this crisis,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press.
One can only hope that the compelling visual evidence, combined with the pleas from Puerto Rico’s leaders and the fact that Puerto Rico is a United States occupied territory, will be enough for the government to respond to this growing crisis with the necessary urgency.