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Having seen the following two tweets about Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, I checked for an update on rebuilding the battered island.

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, made another video last week. Looking somewhat Castro-like in a military cap and with a new tee shirt, she again said that Puerto Ricans are starving and that the Trump administration is doing next to nothing to help her fellow citizens:

Bill Clinton visited her that same day. One wonders if Bubba brought the shirt with him, which is how she got her other ‘help us’ attire. I don’t see any starving people in the photos. Everyone seems to be having a jolly time:

However, not everyone agrees with Yulín’s blame of the Trump administration:

On November 3, Yulín told CNN — which clearly adores her — that the death toll from Maria could be 500, but she has nothing solid on which to base that claim. It’s just to make Trump and his administration appear incompetent and cruel.

CNN posted an article — also on November 20 — which brought up the 500 dead figure and states that many are dying in fires from lanterns because they have no electricity.

However, these deaths are occurring now, which begs the question: whose fault is that?

At the end of September, I wrote about how fragile Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was before the hurricane. Everyone on the island knows that.

On November 19, the Los Angeles Times wrote about the lack of electricity, which is driving Puerto Ricans to the mainland:

Prosper, 67, considers himself a creative type. He managed to wire the 12-volt lightbulbs in his home to a series of car batteries.

“Even if there is no electricity, there’s light here,” Prosper said, showing his living room.

Officials estimate several hundred people — mostly young adults — are leaving Puerto Rico each day for the mainland.

The exodus was taking place even before Maria, a Category 4 storm, hit the island on Sept. 20.

Then this follows with mention of the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló (emphases mine):

For years, the commonwealth has struggled with debt. In May, Rossello said the Puerto Rican government, embroiled in a more than $70-billion debt crisis, would go to federal court in hopes of receiving protection from creditors.

Tony Villamil, an economist based in Miami who has worked extensively in Puerto Rico, said Saturday it was “going to take a decade at minimum for the island to recover and regain some sense of normalcy.”

“The ports, the power grid, the highways all need to be rebuilt with significant improvements,” Villamil said. “There needs to be a strong public-private sector relationship that is developed to help in these efforts.”

To date Congress has approved $5 billion in aid for Puerto Rico since Maria made landfall. Even so, Rossello has called on the federal government to give Puerto Rico nearly $94 billion in recovery aid.

While in Washington, D.C., this month for meetings with members of Congress, Rossello outlined how the money would be spent: about $46 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program to restore housing; $30 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for infrastructure; and $17 billion in other grant programs for long-term recovery.

Still, as Rosello and other officials scramble to find money to rebuild the commonwealth and, in turn, stanch migration to the mainland, some have given up and are moving out.

Someone in Puerto Rico posted the following in response to the LA Times‘s tweet about the article (see here, here and here):

not Trump lets be honest puerto rico has a deep corruption problem! lots of money in help are now missing!

you don’t live in puerto rico! corruption is rampant! lots of the help money went to no bid contracts with phantom companies!

so much government corruption in puerto rico, contracts with phantom companies and partisan issues! everybody should demand transparency!

The tweet below shows the state of play last week. Note that the main problem is electricity, which was already a dangerously serious problem before Maria struck:

The latest controversy alleges that FEMA waited 40 days to start funding long term work on rebuilding the island. In fact, it was Governor Rosselló who waited for 30 days. Once he made his request, FEMA approved it within the customary 10 days, the same time it takes on the mainland. On November 21, Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día reported:

Although FEMA assured that the delay in the approval of C-G funds will not affect the island, the fact is that Puerto Rico waited for a month to begin the process of requesting funds for permanent projects.

In addition, although the Rosselló Nevares administration and FEMA spent the first weeks responding to the emergency, two months after the hurricane, most of the island continues without power and to date, the process of installing tarps to residences by the Corps of Engineers does not even reach a quarter of the universe of affected units.

On November 15, the paper reported the bemusement of American legislators on Rosselló’s — and the island’s power authority PREPA’s — slow response:

Washington.- Yesterday, Republicans and Democrats of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources showed themselves confused by the decision of the Government of Puerto Rico to ignore, for over a month during the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria, mutual aid agreements with American public energy corporations.

“One month in the recovery process was lost,” said the president of the committee, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who, without the insistence heard from the House, asked the executive director of the Board, Natalie Jaresko, if it was necessary to appoint an “emergency manager” for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

There were problems with one of the initial contracts, with a company called Whitefish, with which Ryan Zinke, the US Secretary of the Interior (see tweet at the top of this post), has connections. That said, Puerto Rico cancelled the contract, which is also the subject of investigation requests by the FBI, Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the General Inspectors of the departments of Homeland Security and Energy.

Ricardo Ramos, PREPA’s executive director, said he had not received any request from the FBI.

Rosselló says that he was not involved with the contract and that, had he anticipated the slow pace of the recovery process, he would had acted differently.

The story continues.

Further reading:

Hurricane Maria: the Left — including media — are wrong about relief efforts (September 27)

Hurricane Maria: beware American media misinformation about Puerto Rico (September 28)

Hurricane Maria has worsened Puerto Rico’s weak infrastructure (September 28)

Hurricane Maria: fact and fallacy in Puerto Rico (September 28 – October 1)

Hurricane Maria: more news from Puerto Rico (September 25 – October 1)

Hurricane Maria: President Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico (October 3)

 

 

 

 

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On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Puerto Rico, several days after Hurricane Maria struck the island.

The Trumps landed in the morning at Luis Muñiz Air National Guard Base, where Governor Ricardo Rosselló welcomed them:

The Trumps went immediately to a progress meeting involving the governor and his wife, FEMA, the military, other first responders and various mayors of cities in Puerto Rico. Here, President Trump greeted Carmen Yulín Cruz, the outspoken mayor of San Juan. Trump held his ground at the weekend with several tweets about her, including this:

She is the only mayor out of 78 to refuse to attend FEMA meetings. This was her first one. Governor Rosselló is on the right in the photo:

She wore stilettos. A comment on the First Lady, perhaps? Mrs Trump wore work boots in Puerto Rico — and flats on the flight — by the way:

Although Mayor Yulín was at the head table, she sat far away from the president, on the right:

The following clip does not show Mayor Yulín scowling, but features President Trump praising Governor Rosselló as a man who ‘doesn’t play games’. One can imagine that she did scowl at that:

She was upset that Trump said Puerto Rico had thrown off the national budget. He said it in a tongue-in-cheek way, but Yulín thought differently. Of course, she and CNN had to get together once again. Did you know that CNN brought her the ‘we are dying’ shirt?

The next day, she appeared on television in a new tee shirt:

I do not recall in my many hours of reading that Trump called Yulín either of those things.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders discussed Mayor Yulín in her Press Briefing on Thursday, October 5 (emphases mine):

MS. SANDERS: The mayor of San Juan had that shirt saying “NASTY.” What does this White House believe? The President went there; it was very controversial, his appearance there.

MS. SANDERS: Actually, it wasn’t controversial.

Q Well, some people —

MS. SANDERS: It was actually widely praised, even by a Democrat governor. I think that it is sad that the mayor of San Juan chose to make that a political statement instead of a time of focusing on the relief efforts.

The President invited her to be part of that conversation. He specifically asked in the meeting where many were present, including a couple dozen other mayors who were very happy with the recovery efforts — the governor, the congresswoman. He opened the floor up for discussion, and she actually made zero comments. To me, that would have been the time and the place that she should have weighed in and asked for what she needed, and laid out what she was asking for for San Juan. She didn’t.

Instead she chose to wait until the President left and then criticize him on TV, which I think is the wrong thing for her to do for her constituents. And I hope next time she’s given the opportunity to help her constituents, she’ll take it.

Geraldo Rivera of Fox News met up with President Trump later:

Trump spoke with him, mentioning that, coming from New York, he cares a great deal for Puerto Rico. He also thanked the federal agencies, military and first responders for the progress they have made in challenging conditions:

Afterwards, the Trumps toured the area around San Juan and spoke with the people they met.

They saw this supporter along the way:

Governor Rosselló took the Trumps to the Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, not far from San Juan:

There, the president handed out supplies, including paper towels:

The president also talked with residents of Guaynabo:

The mayor expressed his gratitude:

Trump also spoke with residents of San Juan, who requested photo ops:

Unrelated to anything in particular, how did everyone end up with the same facial expression?

On another stop, President Trump comforted a serviceman:

The day concluded with a visit aboard the USS Kearsarge, where Trump received a further briefing — and met with Governor Kenneth Mapp of the Virgin Islands, whom I will cover in a separate post.

This was the first time Marine One has landed on the Kearsarge:

The Trumps also met with the Navy personnel and Marines aboard the ship:

The president pledged his continued support:

USNS Comfort arrived that day:

FEMA continued to hand out supplies:

Customs and Border Patrol were hard at work:

As a thank you for her support, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico got to board Air Force One:

In closing, difficult recovery situations remain — click on the man cleaning his kitchen (top left):

New communications lines are being stolen (why??):

People are leaving the island:

Difficult questions also remain:

Even so, it seems as if many Puerto Ricans appreciate the president. This man says he is doing ‘an awesome job’:

This lady thanks God for President Trump and Vice President Pence:

Amen!

Next stop, Las Vegas in the aftermath of the Mandalay Bay massacre:

I will cover that next week.

Just two posts to go on Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria now.

This one has no hurricane news, but it relates to political parties and nationality, two topics that have arisen elsewhere online over the past fortnight.

Politics

Hurricane Maria has brought out the political spectrum in Puerto Rico. More of us now understand the island’s politics, from conservative to leftist.

New Progressive Party — NPP

Although there is a Puerto Rico Republican Party, it functions as the conservative wing of the New Progressive Party, or NPPPartido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) — which has two camps. One aligns with America’s Republican Party and the other with the Democratic Party.

The NPP is the majority party on the island to the extent that, with a two-thirds legislative majority in both Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives and Senate, it faces no real political opposition.

Both the governor and the resident commissioner are from the NPP.

Jenniffer Aydin González Colón, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, has been doing a lot of liaison work in Washington DC in Maria’s aftermath. González, an NPP member, aligns herself with the Republican Party in the United States.  In June 2017, The Hill included her in its list of Latina Leaders to Watch and describes her as a pro-statehood, small government, pro-business conservative.

Governor Ricardo Antonio Rosselló Nevares is also a member of the NPP. However, he aligns himself with the Democratic Party. He would also like to see Puerto Rico become the 51st state and is certain that it will:

Colonialism is not an option …. It’s a civil rights issue … The time will come in which the United States has to respond to the demands of 3.5 million citizens seeking an absolute democracy.

Although 97% of voters agreed with him in a June 2017 plebiscite on statehood, because they represented only 23% of voters, the result was nullified. This is not the first time Puerto Ricans have voted on the issue. No doubt there will be another plebiscite, although Rosselló would like create a commission which would ensure the island’s legislature would honour the result. Ultimately, the US Congress would have the final say on statehood.

Rosselló’s social views are mixed. On cannabis, he favours legalisation of medical marijuana but opposes legalising recreational marijuana. He supports LGBT rights but opposes same-sex marriage.

Financially, he is grappling with the island’s crippling debt — upwards of $70 million — and has implemented austerity measures on the island.

Popular Democratic Party — PDP

The Popular Democratic Party, or PDP — Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) — wants Puerto Rico to maintain its current status as an unincorporated territory of the United States with self-government.

That might sound like a conservative stance to those who do not live on the island, but the PDP was born out of the Puerto Rico Liberal Party and the Unionist Party in 1938. It, too, is divided into ‘populars’ and ‘conservatives’, and its slogan is ‘Bread, Land, Freedom’.

In 2007, the PDP moved leftward with a new set of party policies:

The new philosophy commits the party to defending a political status for the island that is based in the irrevocable right of the people of Puerto Rico to form a sovereign country.

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, is a PDP member and aligns herself with the Democratic Party. She has been President Donald Trump’s biggest and most vocal critic in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. She was also the only mayor out of 78 who refused to work with FEMA. She would not be out of place with her American counterparts.

Puerto Rican Independence Party

The Puerto Rican Independence Party Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño, PIP — is far-left and gets around 2.5% of the vote. The FBI has even had cause to investigate it over the years.

Nationality

Concerning nationality, Puerto Ricans are blessed.

They are blessed from the point of view of automatically belonging to the United States and, potentially, Spain, and, by extension, the European Union.

How much good fortune could a person on an impoverished island want?

Wikipedia‘s article on Puerto Rican citizenship tells us that anyone who is born in Puerto Rico is born as a) a citizen of Puerto Rico (former Spanish possession until 1898) and b) the United States.

Just as good, since 2007, anyone with Puerto Rican nationality can live in Spain for two years and acquire not only Spanish nationality but also (by virtue of the passport) EU nationality, giving them the freedom to live and work anywhere within the EU.

Therefore, native-born Puerto Ricans are in the rare position of potentially holding four citizenships, should will and circumstance permit: Puerto Rico, United States, Spain and the EU.

Who could ask for anything more?? If I were a teacher in Puerto Rico, I would be encouraging all my students to work their proverbial off so that they could go to the US or Spain and Europe.

Puerto Ricans have multiple exit doors that most people in the world don’t have. They need only to harness their energy, whether in the professions or trades.

All Puerto Rican teachers should be telling their students that the world is their oyster — and to prepare themselves for a bright future.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

I will cover their visit in a separate post, but one thing President Trump said upon his return to the White House that day was that truckers must start work again (see at 55-second mark):

Part of the reason supplies are not reaching Puerto Ricans is because some of the truckers will not drive.

On October 2, my post included a piece on transport on the island. I stated that I needed more research to complete the picture.

In summary, the Teamsters there are part of Local 901, based in San Juan. Alexis Rodriguez is the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 901.

There is another trucking organisation called Frente Amplio de Camioneros (FAC). It is led by Victor Rodriguez.

These are two different organisations led by two different people.

The Teamsters have asked for volunteers from the United States to help their Alexis Rodriguez and his members in Puerto Rico. The response has been favourable:

Victor Rodriguez established FAC in 2003.

Over the past few days, Victor — known as ‘the toothless guy’ — has been giving inflammatory interviews to Puerto Rican television and radio. He wants the island’s governor to give in to their demands before his drivers get behind the wheel again. He also has blamed FEMA, as I wrote the other day, citing a Hollywood LA News which has a video of him from last week (emphases mine below):

it’s the diesel supply of which FEMA is in charge that’s the problem and that their truck drivers have been ready to drive all along. One can discern the skepticism on the face of the interviewer, who then brings up the fact that authorities have put out a call for independent non-union drivers to volunteer because of a lack of people willing to do the work.

That’s the point in the video after which Mr. Rodriguez bombastically started spouting curse words urging the people to pressure FEMA to release fuel and other supplies. By his side is the president of UTRA (Unión de Transporte y Ramas Anexas).

Puerto Ricans on social media are very critical. The top comment for this particular video is from a woman who says that no one is so ignorant to believe that FEMA is to blame for the mess. Others point out that the truckers are refusing to get in line for gasoline and are thus putting lives at risk.

Here is another video of Victor threatening strike action unless FAC’s demands are met. These are the drivers who are not behind the wheel:

Hollywood LA News had a helpful follow-up article on October 2, ‘How You Can Help Puerto Rico (Frente Amplio Edition)’.

The article began with a post of October 1 from FAC’s Facebook page. The second demand has already been answered. President Trump waived the Jones Act at the weekend:

Many friends abroad ask me what they can do to help Puerto Rico. This is what matters the most is to advocate for: 1. a moratorium or an amnesty on Puerto Rico’s national debt. 2. the repeal of the Jones Act or a permanent exemption for Puerto Rico. 3. the repeal of the PROMESA law and the Fiscal Control Board. Now more than ever, we need the removal of these three colonial fetters. The island is completely destroyed. Only if we are free from these three yokes will we be able to begin reconstruction in a just manner.

Esto es de Mara Pastor y yo suscribo para quienes estamos en USA:
Muchas amigas y amigos en el extranjero me preguntan qué pueden hacer para ayudarnos. Lo más importante: abogar por la moratoria o amnistía de la deuda billonaria que nos quieren cobrar, por la eliminación de las leyes de cabotaje o exencion permanente para Puerto Rico de esas leyes, por la eliminación de la ley Promesa y de la Junta de Control Fiscal. Ahora más que nunca, necesitamos que se eliminen estos tres grilletes coloniales. La isla está completamente destruída. Sólo liberándonos de estos tres yugos comenzaremos a reconstruirnos de manera justa.

First, dealing with the debt will take time and negotiation. Secondly, there needs to be some control in place until then, hence PROMESA.

I highlighted the text so that you can see what a lefty Victor is.

Hollywood LA News tells us (emphases in the original):

Victor Rodriguez has been the most visible and vocal leader of professional truck drivers in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, appearing in many media interviews to denounce the governor.

The Facebook page of the “Frente Amplio de Puerto Rico” mentioned first on this page has this in their About section:

The Frente Amplio de Puerto Rico was founded on February 8, 2012 as a political coalition with the purpose of uniting the parties, groups, political causes leftist, sovereign and independence under a single political movement. We seek the union between leftist / pro-independence parties and groups like MAS, MINH, MST, PPT, MUS, Nationalist, Socialist and Communist Party, OSI, FUPI, UJS, PIP, sovereignty within the PPD, recruit independents & leftists who do not vote, recruit those who vote in mixed fashion, those who have no political affiliation among others.

That page also has emblems from various left-wing Puerto Rican independence groups, including one which has a hammer and sickle.

Again, it’s important not to confuse Alexis Rodriguez’s Local 901 with Victor Rodriguez’s Frente Amplio de Camioneros. The first is on the roads; the second is at home.

It is unimaginable that drivers would allow politics to get in the way of delivering life-saving supplies to their fellow countrymen. But that’s the way the radical Left rolls.

Hollywood LA News continues to investigate the transport situation and posted another article on October 2, ‘Puerto Rico Teamsters’. Excerpts follow, emphases in the original.

First, we discover a bit more about Victor:

Those who doubt that Victor M. Rodriguez is the leader speaking for the truck drivers are very out of the loop. Anyone who has even heard of a transport strike on the island in the last two decades knows who he is.

The old man was listed as far back as 2009 in Wikipedia as a notable homeboy of the town of Trujillo Alto. He’s a leftist hero who’s a product of the University of Puerto Rico and he had the cachet to negotiate with the government until he met his match this year with the new governor taking office.

Secondly, we learn that Local 901 are blaming transport delays on paperwork clearance at the port:

The Local 901 affiliated with Joint Council 16 of New York represents a little over 2,000 workers (not just drivers) in the entire island, which has a population of 3.4 million.

The Teamsters of Puerto Rico have argued that the reported non-movement of relief goods from the shipping terminals / ports is actually due to paperwork issues pertaining to the cargo’s release to business owners on the island.

How then will bringing in more volunteer Teamsters from New York speed up the clearing of paperwork?

The Teamsters have not replied to this particular review.

I have looked for an update on the containers still in port but have not been able to find anything, including on El Nuevo Día. To be continued.

There was much to read at the weekend from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Therefore, this is a continuation of yesterday’s post.

As I write on Tuesday afternoon (UK time), October 3, 2017, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are on their way to Puerto Rico. A meeting with San Juan’s mayor is on the agenda. The governor of the US Virgin Islands will be flying into Puerto Rico to meet with the president.

Media gaslighting

The American media will continue to gaslight:

Canadian media were at it, too:

But good things continue to happen

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló has had high praise for the Trump administration’s relief and rescue efforts.

On September 27, Breitbart posted a good article on the interviews he has given to American media.

This is worth noting (emphases mine):

the Associated Press reported on more praise and appreciation from Puerto Rico’s governor. What especially stands out is Rosselló’s praise for the administration’s pro-active pre-planning, and the island’s Resident Commission informing us that Puerto Rico has never received this kind of coordination before:

Rosselló and other officials praised the federal government for planning its response in detail before the storm hit, a contrast with what Puerto Rico has long seen as the neglect of 3.4 million Americans living in a territory without a vote in Congress or the electoral college.

“This is the first time we get this type of federal coordination,” said Resident Commission Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Washington.

Pajamas Media has so much more, including a breakdown of the massive amount of supplies and resources already delivered.

Democrats are whistling in the wind

Yesterday’s post showed a letter from Democrat legislators requesting an investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of Maria in Puerto Rico.

Democrats are whistling in the wind with that one.

Because communications were down, photos from Puerto Rico started emerging only on Monday, September 25, five days after Maria struck. However, FEMA, the Coast Guard, the military were already there and/or in Washington, such as the Federal Communications Commission working with counterparts in Puerto Rico on communications issues:

Communications have been gradually coming back. With regard to mobile phones:

Florida takes in Puerto Ricans

On Wednesday, September 27, Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día reported that Florida has been taking in tens of thousands — possibly up to 100,000 — of the island’s residents:

“Everyone here in Florida has family in Puerto Rico, and every Puerto Rican has lost something on the Island, those Puerto Ricans are going to come and take refuge with their relatives. Personally, I have seven relatives who are coming to my house,” said Florida State Representative Bob Cortés, who estimated a potential influx of 100,000 Puerto Ricans.

Among the measures being taken, Cortés mentioned that students arriving from Puerto Rico will not have to submit documents such as birth certificates, vaccination or credit transcripts in the 67 Florida school districts that agreed to offer such exemption.

In addition, they are coordinating efforts for the Florida Department of Health state to offer services to those who arrive without health coverage. Likewise, agreements were reached with firms such as Disney and Walmart to provide jobs to those migrating.

No information was given on where the arrivals would live. The three comments in Spanish following the article — likely to be from people on the mainland — were far from positive about this development.

A local television station from Jacksonville had an article on the subject, which stated that Florida’s governor, Rick Scott:

has also called on Florida colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition for Puerto Rican students. Florida International University said Friday that it would do so for students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also announced that Puerto Rican students displaced by the hurricane can get free school meals through the National School Lunch Program.

“To any families fleeing Puerto Rico and coming to Florida, you will not have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your child’s school meals,” Putnam said in a prepared statement.

Some see a cynical political opportunity here:

Life-saving drug supply appears good

One of Puerto Rico’s main industries is pharmaceuticals, many of which are exported to the United States and other parts of the world. On Tuesday, September 26, Fortune reported:

The drug industry has a large presence in Puerto Rico with dozens of drug and device manufacturers operating on the island, including Abbott, Baxter, Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer thanks to a now expired federal tax incentive Section 936 that encouraged drug companies to move there.

The industry is critically important to Puerto Rico’s economic recovery; it’s responsible for nearly 90,000 jobs on the island. About a quarter of all pharmaceutical drugs exported from the U.S. are made in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s drug manufacturing industry is also an essential supplier of pharmaceuticals and medical devices that thousands of U.S. hospitals and outpatient clinics use daily, including cancer drugs, immunosuppressants used by transplant patients, and devices needed for people with diabetes.

On Friday, September 29, Fox Business had this update:

While many residents of Puerto Rico continue to hang on without shelter, power, food and clean drinking water after being slammed by two massive hurricanes in less than a month, a lot of big pharmaceutical companies – who manufacture critical life-saving drugs on the island – are scrambling to ensure that drug shortages around the world don’t happen as a result.

Earlier this week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement saying the agency is “very concerned” about the possibility of a drug shortage.

“Since Friday, we have undertaken swift and extensive efforts to prevent or limit the loss or shortage of multiple drugs critical to American patients due to the challenges related to refrigeration, storage and transportation. The agency has been working closely – throughout the weekend and into [Monday] – to relocate products in coordination with our federal and local government colleagues and pharmaceutical companies,” Gottlieb said.

Fortunately, the recovery time could be quicker than anticipated:

FOX Business reached out to some of the top drug makers who manufacture on the island to see if shortages are imminent and what drugs are at risk.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE), one of the world’s largest drug makers in oncology and cardiology, told FOX Business it has completed a preliminary assessment of its properties and only one of its three sites experienced minimal to moderate damage …

Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY), whose top drugs treat oncology, cardiovascular and diabetes, told FOX Business that its two manufacturing sites in Puerto Rico also suffered minimal damage, but it’s not expected to hinder operations as infrastructure begins to recover.

“Our inventory strategy for products is designed to protect against this type of event and we see no product supply risk to global markets at this time,” Tammy Hull, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly and Co., said.

Instead, the company said it’s using its facilities as temporary shelter for some of its more than 1,100 employees on the island …

Novartis (NVS) said while it does not have manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico, it is working closely with its partners, distributors and the government to maintain business and supply continuity.

Baxter (BAX), who markets and distributes more than 84 drugs in the U.S., said it’s still in the process of trying to connect with its employees in Puerto Rico who work at the company’s facility. But as it relates to product supply, the company made preparations in advance to ensure products wouldn’t be affected …

That is good news, indeed.

Arecibo Observatory damage not as bad as thought

Hurricane Maria severely damaged the world’s second-largest radio telescope, located at Arecibo Observatory:

On September 22, Space.com reported:

While the overall structure of the telescope is still standing, it sustained some pretty serious damage from Hurricane Maria, according to an update from the Universities Space Research Organization (USRA), which helps to operate the Arecibo Observatory.

One telescope operator at Arecibo managed to contact USRA officials Thursday (Sept. 21) via a short-wave radio transmission. National Geographic’s Nadia Drake reports that Pennsylvania State University professor Jim Breakall spoke with the telescope operator, who was identified as Ángel Vazquez, and said staff members and their families were safe after sheltering at the facility. Vazquez also detailed some of the damage done to the iconic telescope. 

The article has technical details of the radio telescope.

On September 26, National Geographic reported that, while the telescope is inoperative, Arecibo Observatory is routinely stocked with food and running water, making it useful for local relief efforts:

More importantly, the observatory’s staff sheltering on-site are safe, and the facility is in good enough condition to potentially serve as a local center for the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, reports Arecibo deputy director Joan Schmelz.

Because of its deep water well and generator, the observatory has been a place for those in nearby towns to gather, shower, and cook after past hurricanes. It also has an on-site helicopter landing pad, so making sure the facility is safe in general is not just of scientific importance, but is also relevant for local relief efforts.

Better news emerged on September 29, when Science News reported that the iconic observatory might not be as badly damaged as first thought:

The observatory is conserving fuel, but plans to resume limited astronomy observations September 29, deputy director Joan Schmelz tweeted earlier that day. “#AreciboScience is coming back after #MariaPR.”

But the direct whack still raises the issue of when – and even whether – to repair the observatory: Funding for it has repeatedly been on the chopping block despite its historic contributions to astronomy.

Let’s hope it can be fully restored. The observatory has played a big role in research on gravitational waves and fast radio bursts of energy. More notably, in 1992, Arecibo identified the first planets outside the solar system.

Trump ‘didn’t botch’ Maria response

Former US Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix gave an interview to Bloomberg on September 30.

Captain Hendrix said that Trump’s White House and the Pentagon made ‘smart preparations’.

Excerpts follow:

Now a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, Hendrix served for decades both on the high seas and in high-level staff jobs, including with the Chief of Naval Operations’ Executive Panel and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy’s Irregular Warfare Quadrennial Defense Review. Few people know more about military history than Hendrix, who has degrees from Purdue, Harvard, the Naval Postgraduate School and a Ph.D. from Kings College in London. Little wonder that in 2012 was named the service’s director of naval history.

Here is a lightly edited transcript of our discussion: 

TH: So, it seems like everybody has blasted Trump administration’s response to the Puerto Rico crisis. Has that criticism been fair?

JH: No, I don’t think so. First of all, there was a fair amount of anticipatory action that is not being recognized. Amphibious ships including the light amphibious carriers Kearsarge and Wasp and the amphibious landing ship dock Oak Hill were at sea and dispatched to Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane’s impact.

These are large ships that have large flight decks to land and dispatch heavy-lift CH-53 helicopters to and from disaster sites. They also have big well-decks — exposed surfaces that are lower than the fore and aft of the ship — from which large landing craft can be dispatched to shore carrying over 150 tons of water, food and other supplies on each trip. These are actually the ideal platforms for relief operations owing to their range of assets. The ships, due to their designs to support Marine amphibious landings in war zones, also have hospitals onboard to provide medical treatment on a large scale. That these ships were in the area should be viewed as a huge positive for the administration and the Department of Defense

TH: Many critics feel that Florida and Houston had much better preparation before their storms hit this month. What could have been done better in advance in Puerto Rico, and what can be done in the rebuilding process to help minimize damage next time around?

JH: Puerto Rico is an island that suffers from its position in the middle of the Caribbean and its physical separation from the U.S. Its roads were in disrepair and its electrical grid was antiquated prior to the hurricane. The island has also suffered for years from ineffective local government and rising local territorial debt …

I will have a post on Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico soon.

In the meantime, English speakers can follow local Puerto Rican news at the English version of El Nuevo Día.

I spent half the weekend following what was happening in Puerto Rico more than a week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

There has been more fact and fallacy in news coverage over recent days, since I last covered it on Friday, September 29, 2017.

Media strategy

As I wrote a few days ago, the media’s — and Democrats’ — strategy is to set up Hurricane Maria to be Trump’s Katrina:

What follows is CNN’s admission, referred to above in the second tweet, which the channel hoped would ruin President Donald Trump. General Honoré, interviewed below, took over the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina. The mayor referred to below is that of San Juan:

Two comments about the CNN interview.

First, I followed Katrina closely for weeks; I do not recall that General Honoré was lauded by anyone at the time, or afterwards.

Secondly, it is unlikely San Juan’s mayor is living on a cot. I saw many photos and a few videos of her at the weekend. She looks very clean and has a change of clothes for her many photo opportunities.

Of course, CNN, the Dems and the rest of the Left will continue to push their twisted narrative, but some Americans are already tiring of it — and are particularly annoyed with the mayor of San Juan:

Note the Podemos sticker behind her!

We still don’t know definitively where she got the tee shirt, although there is information on it below. Someone probably brought it over.

Democrat complaint

Below is a request from Democrat congressmen asking for an investigation into Trump’s handling of Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is dated September 28:

Good luck with that. FEMA and the military can prove detailed plans were in place before Maria struck the US territories.

San Juan’s mayor

Carmen Yulín Cruz is the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan.

Last week, she commented favourably on relief efforts. She changed her tune at the weekend and gave an interview to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt’s son and ex-CIA operative, in the tee shirt you see above:

Strangely, her Twitter feed has no videos or photos of her in the ‘We are dying’ shirt, but there are many other photo ops from the past few days.

Unlike President Trump, Mayor Yulín sees no need to help hand out supplies or lunches to her constituents:

Now, particularly note the following tweet. San Juan received supplies from the US government, but Yulin did not distribute them to the people of San Juan. She donated them to another community:

Fair enough. But there is more.

She then made it look as if Goya, the foods company, was the saviour. They probably planned all along to make a donation, which arrived soon after she gave FEMA supplies to Comerío:

Afterwards — standing in front of numerous pallets of Goya products — she gave the interview to Anderson Cooper in the SOS hat and ‘We are dying’ tee. In a press conference, wearing the same attire, she said:

I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.

On October 1, The Hill reported that Jose Fuentes, a former Attorney General for Puerto Rico, does not think much of Mayor Yulín:

The article says, in part:

Former Puerto Rico Attorney General Jose Fuentes on Sunday took aim at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, accusing her of attacking President Trump and using hurricane relief efforts to lay the groundwork for a gubernatorial bid.

“The mayor of San Juan is a political hack,” Fuentes said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Fuentes accused Cruz of making an about-face, saying she supported Trump until her political adviser suggested the idea of running for governor. 

Now, here’s an interesting comment from Fuentes about the ‘We are dying’ tee shirt (emphases mine):

She is singing the praises of the president until her political adviser, [Rep.] Luis Gutiérrez from Chicago, got there and brought her the t-shirts and said, ‘Hey you want to run for governor, if she wants to run,” he continued until the anchor cut him off, pointing to audio issues.

Wow — typical CNN response! Cut the audio, claiming technical issues. They have done that several times over the past year. Each time, a nugget of truth half comes out until CNN cuts the rest of someone’s statement.

Mayor Yulín then took a swipe at Trump, who said that the government couldn’t do everything. People would have to help each other, too. Again, she’s not lifting a finger, only talking. Her caption is more fitting than she thinks:

In this ABC interview with George Stephanopolous from October 1, she backtracked on Trump a bit, saying she would meet with him if he requested it. He will be in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, October 3.

There is something else.

Yulín is the only mayor in Puerto Rico who is not actively working with FEMA:

The results can be harmful to people who have elected someone to be their mayor.

This is the Paineful Truth of the matter:

Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo’s reports from Puerto Rico have been excellent. I feel I’m watching the young investigative reporter I remember from the early 1980s.

This is what he has to say:

Puerto Rico situation summed up

This eight-minute video from a Cuban immigrant really gets to the heart of the matter. This woman takes issue with Yulín, goes into the mayor’s support of an FALN terrorist Obama freed and explains the issue with truckers getting supplies from the ports to towns and cities across the island. The teamsters have a grievance with the governor, some truckers cannot get to work but many others can. Some fuel is being sold on the black market. This lady says that everyone in Puerto Rico knows what is really going on:

On Friday, September 29, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said they are looking for qualified volunteers to help with transport:

(WASHINGTON) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is working closely with Joint Council 16 in New York and the AFL-CIO to provide qualified volunteers to provide much needed support to the people of Puerto Rico. Teamsters Local Union 901 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, an affiliate of Joint Council 16, represents more than 2,000 working men and women across the island.

“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are suffering under unimaginable conditions wrought upon them by Hurricane Maria,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “We are working to identify ways in which the union and our members can best assist those in need.”

The Teamsters are joining with labor unions from across the nation to identify skilled workers to travel to Puerto Rico next week to provide much needed support in critical areas.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” said Teamsters International Vice President and Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. “It is imperative that we provide the manpower and financial support necessary to get Puerto Rico on the road to recovery.”

“Tronquistas (Teamsters) are in the street working since the first day after the hurricane passed and we will continue working to bring peace back to our people,” said Alexis Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 901. “The only goal of the Tronquistas is to raise Puerto Rico back up, stronger and better.”

Alexis Rodriguez’s name is on the listings for Local 901 in San Juan.

At the weekend, there were many mentions of a video with a Victor Rodriguez, the ‘guy with no teeth’, who is said to be the president of Frente Amplio de Camioneros. It is unclear where he fits into the picture.

A Facebook post by a Pedro Gonzalez says:

…este Sr se llama Víctor Rodríguez, es el presidente del frente amplio de camioneros. Ha dado instrucciones para q ningún camionero saque vagones de los puertos y mucho menos gasolina en P.R. A ti Victor, te hacemos responsable por el caos próximo a suceder en la Isla por tus caprichos políticos en contra del Gobierno de turno. Eres un narco político, un vividor y buscon. Con la necesidad del Pueblo puertorriqueño no se juega, so CHARLATÁN!

Gente compartan esto para que llegue a todos los puertorriqueños fuera y dentro de la isla!!

Translated, that says:

This is Mr. Víctor Rodríguez, he is the president of the broad front of truck drivers. He has instructed that no truck driver should remove wagons from ports and much less gasoline in P.R. To you Victor, we hold you responsible for the chaos next to happen on the Island for your political whims against the government in turn. You are a political narco, a vividor and buscon. With the need of the Puerto Rican people, we do not play, just CHARLATÁN!

People share this so that it reaches all Puerto Ricans outside and inside the island !!

The assumption that many online readers of various blogs and news sites made over the weekend is that Victor is from Local 901.

However, someone on Twitter pointed out that Victor is not a union official (see here and here).

Alexis is.

That said, Victor created a non-profit corporation called Frente Amplio Camioneros de Puerto Rico (F.A.C.) Inc. in 2003. It is still in operation.

The relationship between FAC and the union is unclear. But, there must be something, because Victor appeared on television last weekend. Hollywood LA News has the video, courtesy of a Facebook user. Hollywood LA News is under the impression that Victor is an official of Local 901, when he is not.

In any event, Victor said:

it’s the diesel supply of which FEMA is in charge that’s the problem and that their truck drivers have been ready to drive all along. One can discern the skepticism on the face of the interviewer, who then brings up the fact that authorities have put out a call for independent non-union drivers to volunteer because of a lack of people willing to do the work.

That’s the point in the video after which Mr. Rodriguez bombastically started spouting curse words urging the people to pressure FEMA to release fuel and other supplies. By his side is the president of UTRA (Unión de Transporte y Ramas Anexas).

Puerto Ricans on social media are very critical. The top comment for this particular video is from a woman who says that no one is so ignorant to believe that FEMA is to blame for the mess. Others point out that the truckers are refusing to get in line for gasoline and are thus putting lives at risk.

There is more transport information and intrigue from other news sources in that article, so please take the time to read it.

Anyone who dares to volunteer to drive a lorry in Puerto Rico under these conditions can do so:

Overall, this is a highly complicated situation, one that only those who live in or are from Puerto Rico understand.

American media are not explaining it properly, so I would suggest hanging fire before committing to knee-jerk reactions.

Latest news developments

During the weekend, three-star general Jeffrey Buchanan arrived in Puerto Rico:

Governor Ricardo Rosselló gave an update on Sunday:

The Department of Defense has a summary of Rosselló’s briefing. Highlights follow:

The number of DoD personnel deployed to help their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico jumped from around 4,600 to around 6,400 members, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said during a San Juan news conference today …

There are more than 720 gas stations open across the island. The island will receive more fuel in the coming days with close to a million barrels of diesel and half-a-million barrels of gasoline arriving on the island. This is important as diesel is needed to run generators providing electrical power for key infrastructure — such as hospitals — in areas where Maria knocked out the power grid …

“One of the main efforts that the DoD will take on is making sure that we can air supply food and water to those communities while we establish direct connection through the roads,” Rossello said.

The governor said the commonwealth will increase the number of regional distribution centers from the current 11 to 25 or more. “The more of these we have throughout Puerto Rico, the easier it is to get food and water for these municipalities,” he said. “DoD and FEMA and our government are working together so we can establish these locations and make sure food and water get distributed appropriately” …

The Navy’s hospital ship USNS Comfort is expected to arrive at the island October 3 or 4 and will bring its 1,000-bed capability.

DoD personnel will establish a logistics effort for two areas on the island where more hospital support is needed, the governor said.

“The DoD will establish some alternative locations, those being in the southeastern part of the island and in the middle north of the island, so we can get patients to the hospital and the service that they need,” Rossello said.

More tomorrow.

 

Yesterday’s post provided an update on Puerto Rico one week after Hurricane Maria hit.

This post has more news — from Puerto Rico, not the mainland — and will discuss the island’s weak infrastructure.

Latest news

Someone on another site posted a PDF from The San Juan Daily Star dated Thursday, September 28, 2017.

The paper’s articles refute the misinformation that the big American media outlets are reporting. Big media are trying to set up a crisis situation for President Donald Trump, when, in fact, the US government’s response has been nothing short of excellent.

A summary of the articles follows. Emphases mine below.

‘Lengthy Power Restoration Effort Seen in Puerto Rico: US Power Companies’

Damage assessments are still ongoing to determine what human and equipment resources are needed. The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) is working with the US government and private electricity concerns, including the American Public Power Association (APPA) which represents the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA):

We thank (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump for authorizing 100-percent cost sharing by the federal government for 180 days of emergency work to help begin the process of repairing damaged energy infrastructure,” said APPA President and Chief Executive Sue Kelly …

The rates PREPA charged were not enough for the utility to maintain its infrastructure, in part due to ineffective collection efforts and longstanding mis-management that had left it in a $9 billion hole before declaring bankruptcy in July this year.

PREPA’s equipment was already “degraded and unsafe,” according to a draft fiscal report the company filed in April.

‘FEMA Activating Army to Help Restore Energy Grid’

Alejandro de la Campa, FEMA director for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, said that:

the federal agency will for the first time activate the Army to assist in the restoration of the electrical energy system on the island following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria.

The Army will work with PREPA.

In addition:

He also said FEMA will increase staff and resources for the island.

‘Pentagon to Set Up Local Command Center, Send Hospital Ship’

This is about the anticipated arrival of USNS Comfort and Brigadier General Richard Kim’s establishment of a command center to oversee reconstruction efforts.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said:

I am grateful to the federal executive branch for all the work they continue to do as well as my colleagues in Congress, who have expressed their full support for working for Puerto Rico.”

‘US Mulls Request by Lawmakers to Waive Shipping Limits on PR’

This is about lifting the Jones Act, which would enable non-US vessels to get fuel to Puerto Rico.

As I said yesterday — which this article supports — lifting the Jones Act is unnecessary because the necessary fuel is already in port. It just needs delivery across the island:

Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it raises the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel. But the [Department of Homeland Security] official said that the Defense Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have not indicated there is a lack of ships to get food and goods to the island

The real challenges happen to be on the island itself,” the official said, adding that there were plenty of U.S.-flagged barges and tugs available.

‘DACO Chief Urges Around-the-Clock Deliveries for 500 “Operational” Gas Stations’

Michael Pierluisi Roja, the island’s Consumer Affairs (DACO) director, announced that more than 500 filling stations are ‘operational’. That means a) they are ready to receive fuel or b) already received it but ran out.

Roja wants fuel distributors and retailers to get on the ball:

Now, he said, “it is up to the distributors to put get on the ball and respond quickly, responsibly and urgently to the gas stations,” he said. “We have done everything we can to ensure that they have operating conditions. Retailers who have not communicated with wholesalers should do so immediately and in whatever manner is necessary.”

The official acknowledged that there are wholesalers who cannot operate at night due to the lack of electricity at the Yabucoa terminal.

And he also called on gasoline retailers “to allow consumers to fill their gas tanks, so they do not have to return daily to [wait in long lines] in the middle of the crisis.”

‘Federal Agents Now Escorting Some Gasoline Deliveries’

After describing efforts to get fuel deliveries out to various towns, there is notice from Puerto Rico’s Public Affairs and Public Policy Secretary Ramón Rosario Cortés and Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares that it is time for public employees to get back to work:

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares said Tuesday that “government employees should report to their work stations” or, alternatively, public workers should report to the nearest headquarters of their agency or public corporation. If these are not operational, they should report to the nearest municipal Emergency Operations Center, “where their mayor will inform them where to receive aid.”

Rosario Cortés added that “personnel working in school cafeterias and food stores, school teachers and directors should report to their workstations to help with school repairs.”

Other news

An article on page 4 of the PDF lists all the relief activity to date.

Another says that 86 firefighters from the state of New York have arrived to help.

On page 5, there is an article about Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón’s meetings in Washington with legislators and federal agencies about long-term recovery for Puerto Rico.

The generals involved

Big Media are making a big deal about the ‘delay’ in the appointment of a general to oversee recovery efforts.

However, they are wrong.

Thomas P Bossert, President Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, took questions from reporters at the White House Press Briefing on September 28. An excerpt from the transcript follows:

Q I’m not sure if I still understand — why has it taken eight days to get a three-star general on the ground to start organizing this? We know the island situation, et cetera. But why eight days?

MR. BOSSERT: Yeah, well, because it didn’t require a three-star general eight days ago. Let me explain to you how the process works. It will be the best way of explaining the answer.

We have a three-star general in charge of this, and we had one in charge of this out of San Antonio from day minus-eight and day minus-two and all the way through until today. We forward-deployed a one-star general — a brigadier general — to take care of ground force command once we realized the problem of logistics distribution had outstripped the capacity of the affected municipal governments …

the change, move here[,] on day eight was to take that three-star general and to put him there, physically located in the field. I don’t anticipate he’ll stay there long, but he needs to get there, have his eyes on it, and make sure that he’s comfortable with the interaction between his forces and the governor and the municipal forces, because it’s a little bit of a different business plan model in the field, and because it’s unique and it’s an island 1,100 or so miles away from the nearest land in Florida.

And so once he’s satisfied, I think — or would expect that three-star general to recede back into his appropriate command structure. But for now, both he and his one-star subordinate command will be there in charge of ground forces and overall military marshals, and we’ll end up with a lot more people there over the coming days to try to address this really significant problem and significant need.

The rest of Bossert’s Q&A has more details on what has been done in Puerto Rico to date and what lies ahead.

Stars and Stripes has a good article from Monday, September 25, outlining all the military support that Puerto Rico will receive for the foreseeable future. In summary:

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department has dispatched about 2,600 troops to aid Hurricane Maria victims in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico, where access to power and communications remained severely limited five days after the Category 4 storm struck the U.S. territory.

The military has focused primarily on conducting search and rescue operations, delivering life-sustaining supplies and providing generators and fuel to power critical infrastructure such as water treatment facilities and hospitals, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday …

“We have the capability to do exactly what we’re doing, and we’re going to do all we can for the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in the wake of these disastrous storms,” he said. “This is a long-term effort. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and [the Defense Department] will continue to support them as long as support is needed.”

Elderly electricity grid

Puerto Rico’s electricity grid was in dire straits before Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.

The Washington Examiner explains that the aforementioned PREPA mismanaged finances and lost a lot of manpower as workers moved to the United States:

PREPA’s power plants are 44 years old on average, Reuters reported, compared to the industry-wide average of 18 years.

Puerto Rico derives most of its power from Venezuelan oil, and PREPA relied on selling bonds to pay for the imported oil it burned at its aging power plants that need billions of dollars worth of repairs.

Sensitive to price shocks in the oil market, PREPA charges the island’s residents high rates, more than any U.S. state but Hawaii, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The power company is also grappling with a manpower shortage. PREPA has lost 30 percent of its employees since 2012 as locals migrate to the mainland to escape the island’s financial woes and stagnant economy.

The entire operation was failing both organizationally, and in the energy generation system and transmission and distribution systems,” said Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Washington Examiner. “They were vulnerable. So the surprise to me is the electricity is on at all in Puerto Rico, with the storm or no storm. It is that serious and has been that serious.”

In May 2017, Puerto Rico entered a process similar to bankruptcy protection in order to restructure $70 billion in debt. Congress appointed a board, PROMESA, to oversee the restructuring process.

Tom Bossert said at yesterday’s press briefing that nothing had been determined yet about Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation, but that the US government would certainly help rebuild not only the electricity grid — but also the island’s water system:

Those are the two concerning elements where they’re going to have to be rebuilt, they’re going to have to be rebuilt under proper management, and they’re going to have to be rebuilt under proper rebuilding codes and standards to make sure that they can withstand a future hurricane, and that we don’t just go back to sticks and wires in the future.

So we’re going to put federal money into this. We should do it wisely and prudently. I’ve said that from this podium here before. President Trump believes in that seriously. I don’t think we’re going to have to address the debt restructuring issue in this next go-around, but if we do, and if Congress wants us to, President Trump is up to that challenge.

Financial mismanagement

In 2016, a Republican congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, took issue with Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation and said he would vote against PROMESA. It’s a moot point now, but these were his reasons as laid out in the Daily Signal:

Puerto Rico is facing a financial mess. Much of it has been caused by poor governance on the island, but also exacerbated by the heavy hand of the United States government.

No one said it better than Pedro Perluisi, the Democratic Delegate from Puerto Rico to the U.S. House of Representatives, when he spoke at a hearing on the Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill. He said, “Part of this over-spending is definitely the result of mismanagement. I admit it. It’s embarrassing.”

But then he went on to blame Obamacare not spending enough money on Medicaid. Prior to Obamacare, he said that Puerto Rico received $350 million per year. After Obamacare, they are receiving $1.2 billion per year, but conditions are worse. And he seems to think it is because the federal government needs to spend more money.

Earlier that year, Wilbur Ross, who was still restructuring failed companies at the time — he is now Trump’s Secretary of Commerce — said:

Puerto Rico is the US version of Greece.

Yet, going back further to 2015, Breitbart said that comparing Puerto Rico to Greece was unfair to Greece. More Greeks work than do Puerto Ricans. More Puerto Ricans are reliant on government handouts than Greeks.

This is because, because of US law, Puerto Rico has an unsustainably high minimum wage which prohibits entry-level jobs from being created. The only choice is to apply for welfare:

An unsupportably high minimum wage has meant that entry level jobs simply don’t exist in Puerto Rico, USA. Official unemployment is only 12 percent, but that is only because the labor force participation rate is about 43%, as opposed to 63% on the mainland.

Perhaps to make up for this disastrous employment policy, welfare and entitlement payments are kept high. As a result, the incentive to give up public assistance in favor of a job has been substantially reduced for Puerto Rico, USA. Less than half of working age males are employed, 35 percent of the island’s residents are on food stamps, and 45.4 percent of Puerto Rico, USA is in poverty.

Even worse:

Puerto Rico USA is actually worse off than its impoverished neighbor Cuba. Although Puerto Rico’s $103 billion annual GDP is twice the size of Cuba’s, Puerto Rico’s debt of $73 billion is now over three times larger than Cuba’s debt of $23.44 billion.

The article concludes:

A quick look at Puerto Rico USA demonstrates how destructive America’s socialistic labor and tax policies can be to a group of Americans.

Indeed.

Corruption and high crime rate

In January 2014, Fox News had an article about Puerto Rico’s deep corruption and high crime rate.

At that point, 13 people had been murdered over the course of five consecutive days. Four murders took place on one night alone.

Despite it being a US territory, Puerto Rico’s murder rate is more in line with developing countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, told Fox News:

“The crime rate has been neglected for so long that it looks like the problem is not going to go away anytime soon.”

Falcón added that Puerto Rico has locked in a three-fold predicament when trying to tackle its violent crime rate – an unstable economic situation that limits available resources, a recent shake-up in the island’s police department, and a lack of attention from federal law enforcement to territory’s position as an increasingly important drug transit zone.

In 2013, Obama’s Department of Justice gave Puerto Rico $10 million to clean up police corruption over a 10-year period. I reckon that money’s long gone and the corruption even deeper.

In any event, drug trafficking has ballooned:

Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean are beginning to see a trafficking surge reminiscent of the 1980s heyday of the Colombia-South Florida drug trade.

The article blames the US government for not sending more money. As if that’s going to do anything much. Surely, this is a question of morality and ethics.

On February 13, 2017, a big cocaine distribution network was busted. Insight Crime has the story:

Ten individuals — including several airport officials — have been arrested for trafficking 20 metric tons of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the United States since 1998, a reminder of the importance of this oft-overlooked territory as a drug transshipment point

US and Puerto Rican authorities arrested ten individuals on February 13 in a sting operation against the cocaine trafficking group, reported Hoy Los Ángeles. A previous police operation in November 2016 resulted in the arrest of two other suspects that belonged to the network

The group would contract drug “mules,” or low-level human smugglers, to ensure that their luggage would board the plane unchecked. The US indictment indicates that up to five mules would board a plane at a time, registering two pieces of luggage that each contained between eight and fifteen kilos of cocaine.

The estimated worth of the drugs smuggled between 1998 and 2016 was $100 million.

The article also says:

The increased drug smuggling through Puerto Rico is due to greater security pressure in the Dominican Republic that has led to a shift in trafficking routes, according to the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

A significant portion of the cocaine moving through Puerto Rico is sold to domestic users. According to the DEA’s 2016 annual report, between 70 and 80 percent of the cocaine that arrives on the island is sent to the United States, while the rest is consumed by the local market.

Wow.

Conclusion

Puerto Rico is in a lot of trouble structurally, financially and morally.

Throwing excessive money their way may only exacerbate these problems. There has to be a better way.

Yesterday, I wrote about how wrong the Left, including the media, are about relief efforts by America’s FEMA and military in Puerto Rico.

The media are falling over themselves trying to make Maria Donald Trump’s Katrina.

Here is an update on media misinformation about what is currently happening on the devastated island.

USNS Comfort

Yesterday’s post had an item about the US Navy ship Comfort. Hillary Clinton stuck her oar in on Twitter complaining it hadn’t been sent yet.

Afterwards, the Comfort received permission to sail.

As one will discover below, that had nothing to do with Hillary, but the Washington Post made out as if her tweet persuaded President Donald Trump to send the ship.

This is what WaPo reporter Dan Lamothe tweeted:

In reality, because there wasn’t a Puerto Rican port able to receive the Comfort, she could not start her journey.

Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse explains more about Comfort and preparing her (emphases mine below):

The USNS Comfort is a 900′ (length) x 100′ (width) hospital. It was built by modifying a 1970’s era oil tanker (old hull design – non bulbous bow), and it weighs approximately 67,000 tons. It’s essentially still an old oil tanker in water placement design; meaning it needs a port to receive it on arrival.

Additionally, it takes approximately five days to activate Comfort into service. Fueling, supplying, and the engineering to prepare for ocean passage of a massive vessel is a lengthy process. She also needs personnel to arrive and stage etc. All said, the logistics and engineering takes five days prep time.

Sundance, whose Twitter account is The Last Refuge, rightly took on Dan Lamothe over this misinformation (emphases in the original below):

When CTH challenged the WaPo author, Dan Lamothe, about this factual “spin-up” time, and how Comfort was ordered to prepare PRIOR to Clinton’s tweeting about it, Lamothe admits Clinton didn’t have anything to do with Comfort’s activation.

Here is some of the exchange:

Which received this reply from others reading the thread:

It is sad: WaPo shamelessly peddling such a load of old cobblers (nonsense).

As Sundance explains (emphases mine):

USNS Comfort’s activation was put on hold (“stand down”) because: A) there was no port that survived the storm in a capacity able to receive her; and B) the governor of Puerto Rico requested she not be sent

Puerto Rico is an island. The first job is to get the ports open. Every single aspect of relief and recovery is dependent on getting all ports operational. Nothing matters more.

That is exactly what FEMA, Homeland Security (coast guard), and the U.S. Navy understood even before the hurricane hit the island. All assets were staged to ensure the first job was to get the ports open.

The relief lag, and any supply deficiency, is specifically related to the time it took (and takes) to open the ports.

FEMA

That conveniently brings me to FEMA.

Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, gave a brief interview to Fox News. The reporter challenges him about petrol distribution on the island. He explains all the efforts going on to make that possible. In some places, petrol is available, but Governor Rossello has rightly rationed it to 10 gallons per person. The reporter doesn’t seem to get it, thinking there is no petrol, so why not lift the Jones Act, which was done for Florida after Hurricane Irma. Brock Long tells her that the petrol is there, it just needs to get distributed once roads are clear — and electricity is restored in order to operate the pumps:

Sundance had a good column on this, excerpted below. He points out another issue, which is that drivers have not shown up to transport petrol and basic necessities:

The lifting of the “Jones Act” to allow any flagged ocean carrier to deliver supplies is not needed because the ports are backlogged with ample supplies and fuel while the Puerto Rican government does nothing to transport them.

Neither FEMA, nor the DoD, can be expected to take the place of municipal authorities; yet that is exactly what it appears the Puerto Rican government expects.

FUBAR.

If you want to see proof of this, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud shows full containers just waiting to be unloaded and transported. He also talks about the clear absence of lorries and drivers. No one knows if they cannot get to work or if, as Sundance says, they expect FEMA and the military to transport them. This is worth watching:

Thomas P Bossert, President Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, gave this update yesterday:

Puerto Rico’s governor is going to have to see where his men are to help deliver fuel and supplies.

Geraldo Rivera

Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera has been sent to Puerto Rico to cover news there as well as find his family members.

Part of this video shows him finding his Aunt Ellie. A tree fell through her house. She is unharmed, fortunately, and Geraldo — as he has been known for decades — later helped clear the tree:

He says in the video that families are worried about their loved ones. With the phone masts down, there is no way they can contact them.

Rivera said elsewhere that he is pledging $10 million of his own money to the Maria relief and rebuilding efforts.

Although his video above is good, it should be noted that Geraldo gives a positive version of events when he appears on Fox and Friends and a negative one when he appears later in the day on Shepard Smith’s show.

Two different audiences, two different versions of events.

Looting

Looting started in some areas of Puerto Rico as soon as Maria left the island.

Spare a prayer for this man who manages a supermarket that got looted — and for his boss, the owner.

Don’t think that these are hungry young men. They were very energetic when breaking in — and destroying the whole store, which is now flooded. These young criminals stole alcohol, cigarettes and meat. They broke into cash registers. They broke the shop’s industrial lift. Everything will have to be replaced.

Even the CNN guy had to back off asking whether we shouldn’t have sympathy for these vandals. The manager politely stated that they looted for personal benefit:

While we pray for all of Puerto Rico, please pray especially for this store manager and the store’s owner as well as others whose livelihoods have been seriously harmed or destroyed by looting.

More tomorrow, specifically on the precarious state of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

When Hurricane Maria slammed into the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 30, 2017, the Trump administration already had a relief plan in place.

To find out that the Left — Democrats, the media and their acolytes — are criticising President Donald Trump for doing nothing or not doing enough is maddening.

You’ll see Hillary Clinton’s criticism below. The media are hard at it, too: CNN, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic and many more outlets.

That people believe such rubbish because a) their minds are already made up or b) they are too lazy to search for the truth is equally infuriating.

President Trump was at the United Nations General Assembly last week. Regardless, the appropriate government agencies and departments were keeping him informed of Maria’s path and planned relief efforts.

On September 19, he tweeted:

The day Maria hit, everyone — including Trump — was watching:

I said in my post of September 21 that Puerto Rico’s dilapidated electricity grid collapsed. No one had power. Nor would they have power in the near future. Phone masts were — and continue to be — down, complicating communication.

Much of the island’s infrastructure — including ports and airfields — is ruined, making Maria’s strike catastrophic. This made rescue and relief efforts impossible in the immediate aftermath. It remains difficult today.

On Saturday, September 23, The Conservative Treehouse gave this update:

The U.S. military is the tip of the spear in attempting to get aid and supplies to the residents in coordination with FEMA and emergency officials. CTH had numerous conversations today with teams trying to get as much into the island as possible.

The leadership of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Expeditionary Strike Group 2, met with key leaders with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Puerto Rico National Guard to plan and coordinate for Hurricane Maria response efforts in Puerto Rico. The Department of Defense (DoD) is supporting FEMA, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

The day after the Marines and Navy landed, Hillary Clinton piped up:

That same day, The Conservative Treehouse detailed the efforts made thus far (emphases mine below):

The reality of Clinton’s disconnect is only exceeded by her jawdroppingly ridiculous undertones of division.  Obviously Hillary Clinton has no idea what is going on in Puerto RicoThe U.S. military have been leading FEMA rescue, relief and recovery efforts from the first moment the winds died down

Even before Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico the U.S. military, including the Navy, were mobilized in advanced preparation for what was predictedSEE HERE– …

The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard is working to open ports. There are hundreds of sunken vessels impeding navigation. The Navy and Coast Guard led recon missions to determine clear entry paths (rapid recon) and are RIGHT NOW guiding in relief ships through the waters surrounding the island.

The U.S. Marines are airlifting hundreds of tons of relief supplies via fixed wing and helicopter air missions. The U.S. response includes five warships, helicopters, cargo aircraft, National Guard troops and amphibious units as part of the relief operations …

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are the actual ground force opening the ports of destination and the airports. They reopened the major airport in San Juan to military relief flights on September 22nd and established the air-traffic command center.

The U.S. Coast Guard is dropping supplies and working from their base in Puerto Rico, and simultaneously coordinating with Dutch, British and French ships delivering relief supplies around St. Thomas and St. Croix

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, told PBS on Tuesday, September 26, that he is very satisfied with the response from the United States. President Trump has spoken to him several times and the FEMA director has visited him twice:

Here is the governor himself:

San Juan’s mayor is also satisfied with relief efforts:

This FEMA page is dedicated to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Here are two recent articles from the Department of Defense on their efforts in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. The DoD also has a good set of pictures showing their work not only in the US Virgin Islands but also in Dominica.

In addition to government agencies, Florida’s governor, Rick Scott — a Republican — has placed the state’s National Guard and Wildlife Commission on standby to fly to Puerto Rico if Rossello formally requests their help.

President Trump will be visiting Puerto Rico and possibly the Virgin Islands on Tuesday, October 3. At his press briefing during the visit of Spain’s president Mariano Rajoy Brey on Tuesday, September 26, he said that he had spoken with Governor Rossello that morning. All federal agencies on Puerto Rico are doing their utmost in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria:

The Conservative Treehouse had an update that day on the US Coast Guard’s work and the tremendous uphill tasks they face in Puerto Rico. Critics should take note of this:

The majority of people who are providing media opinion on Puerto Rico recovery efforts really don’t have any understanding of the scale of the logistics involved when the impact zone is an island.

Hurricane Maria destroyed hundreds of vessels in and around the various PR ports making entry and exit into harbors a maze of submerged vessel and sunken debris avoidance. In addition, the ports’ infrastructure systems (power, utilities, docking equipment, pump stations, fuel depots, etc) were severely impacted, and in many ports 100% wiped out. Buoys, markers, harbor-lights, towers, all gone – completely destroyed.

Puerto Rico is an island, so bringing in relief supplies by cargo ship is the only way to deliver massive tonnage of supplies, heavy equipment and material needed to begin any restoration and recovery effort. Without ports those supplies cannot be offloaded. Especially think about fuel shipments. See the issue?

However, in a stunning feat of skill, ingenuity and determination the harbor entries have been mapped for navigable passage by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard while simultaneously the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been working on the land-based side of the port infrastructure

The U.S. Coast Guard has 13 cutters and 10 aircraft working on this mission and are working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Navy. Their ability to open these ports is a remarkable feat of logistics and speaks to the incredible coordination between the Dept. of Defense and FEMA.

That post also has a current update of the status of ports. A few are still closed. Some are open only during daylight hours. Others have restrictions.

Fox News reporter Chad Pergram reported on the dire situation Puerto Ricans are enduring:

Puerto Rico’s National Guard is responding. Their video shows the devastation:

In closing:

Everything that can be done is being done in Puerto Rico.

What a month of disasters: Hurricane Harvey, Mexico earthquake (8.1), Hurricane Irma, Mexico earthquake (7.1) and now Hurricane Maria.

Maria hit St Croix and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, one day after the second earthquake took place.

Summary

Bob Henson of Weather Underground posted ‘Maria Slams St. Croix, Rips Across Puerto Rico’ early Wednesday morning.

Maria hit St Croix in the early morning hours (emphases mine below):

Maria raked the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix (population 50,000) with its outer eyewall on the strong (right front) side of the eye, between about 1 – 3 am EDT Wednesday morning, but the island missed seeing the Category 5 winds of the inner eyewall, which remained just offshore to the south. The highest winds officially observed on the island were at Cotton Valley RAWS, located on the east end of St. Croix: sustained at 99 mph, gusting to 136 mph, at 2:13 am EDT. A WeatherFlow station at Sandy Point, on the island’s southwest tip, observed sustained winds of 100-104 mph, gusting to 137 mph. Even stronger winds likely occurred somewhere across the island’s west end, but we don’t know how strong, since the wind measuring equipment at the St. Croix airport and the Lime Tree Bay Buoy failed.

According to the Quicklook page at NOAA’s Tides and Currents, Christiansted Harbor on the north side of St. Croix observed a storm surge of two feet. The pressure at a personal weather station on the southwest tip of St. Croix fell to 954 mb at 1:48 am, when the eye made its closest pass to the island.

Maria roared on to Puerto Rico, arriving a few hours later:

Ferocious Hurricane Maria made landfall around 6:15 am EDT Wednesday near Yabucoa in far southeast Puerto Rico as a top-end Category 4 storm, with peak sustained winds estimated at 155 mph

Maria did not hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, thanks to an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) that began on Tuesday night. The storm’s “pinhole” eye, less than 10 miles wide, was supplemented by an outer eyewall that contracted around the smaller one. The process helped lead to the slight weakening of Maria’s top winds, but it also likely broadened its core of winds topping 100 mph.

Dr Jeff Masters provided an update, ‘Maria Back Over Water After Devastating Hit to Puerto Rico’. Excerpts follow:

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.

Maria brought extreme rainfall amounts to large portions of Puerto Rico that caused record or near-record flash flooding. Numerous stations in Puerto Rico recorded rainfall amounts in excess of ten inches. Rainfall amounts in excess of 47 inches in 24 hours were recorded at three stations on the southwest side of El Yunque, the high mountainous area in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico; these are so extreme as to be unbelievable, and the gauges may have been impacted by flash flooding, or by a calibration problem at extreme precipitaion rates …

The storm’s powerful winds caused catastrophic damage to the island’s power grid, knocking out power to 100% of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents. In the Virgin Islands, there was also heavy damage on St. Croix, and serious flooding has been reported on St. Thomas …

Maria stayed over Puerto Rico for several hours:

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.

Maria previously ravaged other Caribbean islands. A picture caption at the top of Masters’s article reads:

Damage on the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Maria killed at least 7 people on Dominica, and 2 on neighboring Guadeloupe. Image from a video by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

Zero Hedge has a good article, with part of the title being a quote, ‘We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’ (emphasis in the original below):

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello indicated this was life-changing:

We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.

Earlier, on Dominica and Guadeloupe (emphases mine):

“It is devastating, indeed, mind boggling,” Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s prime minister, said in a statement. The eastern Caribbean nation with a population of 75,000 has “lost all what money can buy and replace,” he said. Skerrit said he was rescued after the roof of his house was torn off by the storm.

At least six people have died on the island of Dominica, according to a spokeswoman for the government in London. “Damage is extensive throughout the island,” she said, “and people are walking the streets in a delirious state of mind.” With all lines of communication down, the government was relying on amateur radio, or ham radio, operators for updates, according to Bloomberg. In addition, at least two have been confirmed dead on the island of Guadeloupe.

Tell me there isn’t some sort of message in all this destruction.

Those of us living far away should pay attention and mend our ways, because this wrath is directed at all of mankind. I rarely write about storms, but the past few weeks have been phenomenal.

Maria in the record books

Henson reported that Maria is the record books:

Maria was the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico, behind only the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two other Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.

  • In terms of top sustained wind, Maria is the fifth strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S. behind only the four Cat 5s to hit the country (Hurricane Andrew of 1992 in South Florida, Hurricane Camille of 1969 in Mississippi, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys, and the 1928 hurricane in Puerto Rico.)
  • In terms of lowest atmospheric pressure at landfall, Maria (917 mb) ranks third in U.S. records behind only the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Camille.
  • Maria’s landfall at Category 4 strength gives the U.S. a record three Category 4+ landfalls this year (Maria, Harvey, and Irma). The previous record was two such landfalls, set in 1992 (Cat 5 Andrew in Florida, and Cat 4 Iniki in Hawaii.)

Masters’s article added:

Maria is almost assured to be the most expensive hurricane in Puerto Rico history, and may challenge Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Irma (2 weeks ago) as the most expensive hurricane on record for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This was how the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane was reported by a Nebraska newspaper. Note ‘God’s Fury!’ above the map:

The hurricane wreaked havoc — tornadoes and severe rain — from South Dakota eastward to New York.

For anyone wondering, Puerto Rico was spelled that way in those days. The United States did not use ‘ue’ until 1948.

Financially devastating

The cost of clean-up, restoration and rebuilding of parts of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean — and Mexico — will be massive, crippling in some cases.

The Zero Hedge article said:

Maria could cause $30 billion in damage to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler for Enki Research. The island, which filed for bankruptcy in May after years of economic decline while a series of defaults, has been effectively shut out of capital markets, which could slow the recovery process, Bloomberg reports. Its aging government-owned electric utility operates under court protection from creditors and its emergency fund stood at about $32 million before Irma knocked out electricity access for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans.

Although President Donald Trump has been busy at the UN for the past two days, he has been keeping a close eye on developments:

Below, he says that what has happened in Puerto Rico is ‘very, very sad’ and that Maria has made it a very different island:

The mayor of San Juan agrees:

The Trump administration will get relief work started as soon as practicable. He will also be visiting the island, probably the first president to do so after a disaster:

Images of Maria and Puerto Rico

Near the end of this moving GIF, Maria’s eye looks just like the hurricane symbol. Now I understand why the symbol has that shape:

The wild gyration, Stu Ostro says, is unusual.

There was also low pressure in a new location:

This short video shows Maria as she moved through parts of Puerto Rico:

Much of the island has been hit by flooding, which continues — said to be ‘catastrophic’ on Thursday:

Maria is still a strong hurricane:

In fact:

And:

This is a photo of the ocean:

Power is out for everyone in Puerto Rico:

Power will be out for some time:

Wow:

The man interviewed below said that he has lived through hurricanes before, but nothing like Maria. He said that his friends felt the same way:

A curfew is in effect for the entire island for the next few days:

El Nuevo Dia has news on the devastation.

The forecast

Something out of this world is going on here, because:

On Thursday:

This is a possible path:

Here is a timeline:

In closing

(I think ‘chela’ above was meant to be ‘heal’.)

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