Students should care about, attempt to help after devastation even from afar
On Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria, the first Category 4 storm to hit the island of Puerto Rico since 1932, made landfall.
Since then, it has continued to create havoc across Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has experienced a level of devastation that few other storms in American history have produced. Still three weeks after the storm hit, most people of Puerto Rico remain without clean water, food, electricity and other basic necessities.
This hit home for me. Can you imagine losing literally everything and going three weeks without clean water or food?
My father was born in Puerto Rico. I have many family members, whom I’ve never met, who have been devastated, and there’s no way for me to get into contact with them.
On Oct. 3, 13 days after the storm hit, President Donald Trump visited the island. Although it was a delayed visit, and he didn’t hold a meeting about the disaster until six days after landfall, I’m glad he witnessed the devastation for himself.
But I was disappointed with the president’s response, or lack thereof. I found it very upsetting and very offensive that the president of the United States would say that Puerto Rico has “thrown our budget a little out of whack” and that they “should be proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico” because only “sixteen people versus thousands of people” have died as a result of Hurricane Maria.
The very next day, the death toll rose to 34 people.
“This terrible and abominable view of him throwing paper towels and throwing provisions at people does not embody the spirit of the American nation,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said following Trump’s visit. “That is not the land of the free and the home of the brave and beacon of democracy that people have learned to look up to across the world.”
Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico was not only offensive, but it acted as if to diminish the suffering and the true need of the people by comparing it to Hurricane Katrina.
Sadly, because Puerto Rico is separate from the continental United States, it is easy for us to forget that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.
“There’s a geographical preference and, to my estimation, there’s an ethnic preference given to those that live on the U.S. mainland,” said James Alexander, religion professor.
Just because our president is not acting as an example does not mean that we must follow his lead.
In times of desperate need, we as human beings have a way of coming together for a common cause. In order to do so, we have to pay attention to what is going on. We have to truly care about what is going on, and we have to act.
Although you may feel like you are so far away and are incapable of making a difference, there are things you can do to help.
You can give money. You can help spread awareness on social media. You can donate material goods that are in need. You can help others in need.
“They are so much more than a destination spot,” Alexander said. “I think people are just starting to realize that and realize that it is incumbent upon them as American citizens to reach out and to help some of their own.”
For more information on how to get involved, visit http://www.unitedforpuertorico.com/.