While Puerto Rico Spins Down, Trump Tweets, Networks Take a Knee

September 25, 2017

trumppuerto

Starvation on US Soil?
Would that be good TV?

Washington Post:

Approximately 20 other mayors across the island still have not been able to make contact with government officials, leaving major gaps in the broader understanding of the damage Maria left behind.

The mayors greeted each other with hugs and tears, and they pleaded with their governor for some of the things their communities need most: drinking water, prescription drugs, gasoline, oxygen tanks and satellite phones. The entire population remains without electricity. Families everywhere are unable to buy food or medical treatment. Roads remain waterlogged, and looting has begun to take place at night.

“There is horror in the streets,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said in a raw, emotional interview with The Washington Post. “People are actually becoming prisoners in their own homes.”

“Whenever I walk through San Juan,” Cruz said, she sees the “sheer pain in people’s eyes. . . . They’re kind of glazed, not because of what has happened but because of the difficulty of what will come,” she said. “I know we’re not going to get to everybody in time. . . . Two days ago I said I was concerned about that. Now I know we won’t get to everybody in time.”

Inside Climate News:

Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico presents a test case of the United States’ response to climate-related damages on a small island territory that is impoverished, vulnerable and underrepresented in Congress. The storm caused widespread damage that could leave people homeless, jobless and without clean water or electricity for months. As is so often the case, the harm hit hardest those with the fewest resources.

It’s not just that Puerto Rico was already laden with chronic debt and acutely injured by an earlier storm that had passed just north of the island two weeks before. Nor is it merely that Maria, probably the most destructive hurricane in the island’s history, is the kind of event that climate change experts have long warned would be among the risksfacing coastal areas as the planet warms.

From the vantage point of environmental justice, this storm also represents many of the ways that those risks are unfairly distributed—and whether the United States, like the world as a whole, is prepared to come to the aid of poor and vulnerable communities that have contributed little to climate change.

The Category 4 hurricane wiped out Puerto Rico’s electric grid, and it’s expected to be out for months, leaving the island’s 3.4 million people—about 44 percent of whom already lived below the poverty line—isolated without life’s basic necessities and. As of late Thursday, Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, said there had been no contact with officials in 85 percent of the island.

Among the questions will be this narrow one, which Congress and the White House will have to grapple with: If there is not enough money to pay all the costs, yet untallied, of the record hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico this summer, will the funds be equitably allocated? The two other devastated states have among the largest voting blocs in Congress, and Puerto Rico has no vote.

MediaMatters:

Even though Maria first made landfall in Puerto Rico several days ago, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday all failed to mention the extensive destruction and the millions of American citizens without power or shelter. CNN and NBC’s Sunday political talk shows both mentioned the story but spent minimal time covering the devastation. On CNN’s State of the Union, Our Revolution President Nina Turner implored President Donald Trump to “use his energy to fight for our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico who have no power,” and on NBC’s Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd closed the program by telling its viewers how they could “help your fellow Americans in Puerto Rico” and displaying contact information for four highly-rated charities assisting recovery efforts.

Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and contributing writer for Grist, demonstrated the importance of reporting on the devastation in Puerto Rico in a September 22 article, which noted that Hurricane Maria’s “rains fell at a rate exceeding that of Hurricane Harvey in Texas with wind speeds exceeding that of Hurricane Irma in Florida.” Holthaus also reported that “90 percent of homes and businesses have suffered ‘complete’ damage,” comparing the “$30 billion” in estimated destruction in Puerto Rico to “a $500-billion disaster in New York City or a $700-billion disaster in California.” Holthaus warned that “if the aid response is not swift, the situation in Puerto Rico has all the makings of a major humanitarian crisis”.

New York Times:

José A. Rivera, a farmer on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, stood in the middle of his flattened plantain farm on Sunday and tried to tally how much Hurricane Maria had cost him.

“How do you calculate everything?” Mr. Rivera said.

For as far as he could see, every one of his 14,000 trees was down. Same for the yam and sweet pepper crops. His neighbor, Luis A. Pinto Cruz, known to everyone here as “Piña,” figures he is out about $300,000 worth of crops. The foreman down the street, Félix Ortiz Delgado, spent the afternoon scrounging up the scraps that were left of the farm he manages. He found about a dozen dried ears of corn that he could feed the chickens. The wind had claimed the rest.

“There will be no food in Puerto Rico,” Mr. Rivera predicted. “There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won’t be any for a year or longer.”

Hurricane Maria made landfall here Wednesday as a Category 4 storm. Its force and fury stripped every tree of not just the leaves, but also the bark, leaving a rich agricultural region looking like the result of a postapocalyptic drought. Rows and rows of fields were denuded. Plants simply blew away.

In a matter of hours, Hurricane Maria wiped out about 80 percent of the crop value in Puerto Rico — making it one of the costliest storms to hit the island’s agriculture industry, said Carlos Flores Ortega, Puerto Rico’s secretary of the Department of Agriculture

 

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4 Responses to “While Puerto Rico Spins Down, Trump Tweets, Networks Take a Knee”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Almost unbelievable devastation and a very scary prognosis. I have NO confidence that Trump et al will do what is necessary to help Puerto Rico, or that the networks will adequately cover the looming apocalypse.

    (And before Ginger Baker arrives on scene, let me suggest that PR is the ideal test case for his large scale renewables—-replace the obsolete and outmoded—now largely destroyed—-infrastructure with 100% solar and wind and microgrids)


  2. Why not deploy US Navy ships to supply significant ship to shore emergency power to Puerto Rico and other island locations? If this were done it could ease near term critical power needs for hospitals, civilian communication, water, refrigeration, etc. It could accelerate recovery of infrastructure and give aid to badly damaged spirits facing intolerable odds.

    I can find very little online; nothing current about this capacity or any plans to deploy it for disaster relief; but there is precedent, outlined in this 2006 MIT doc with a brief history of such use to power cities in wartime:

    SHIP TO SHORE POWER:
    US NAVY HUMANITARIAN RELIEF?
    https://ocw.mit.edu/…/6-691-semi…/projects/ship_to_shore.pdf

    “The [destroyer escort] Wiseman had transformers and cable reels topside to deliver power at high voltages over relatively long distances. Wiseman powered the city of Manila during WWII and the port of Mason during the Korean War. Wiseman delivered 5,806,000 kWh to Manila over five and a half months, giving an average generation capability greater than 1.4 MW.”

    The author guesstimates that a modern carrier continuously producing 190MW on-board could in theory power 110,000 houses, or a number of hospitals, & so on.

    “There are currently no US Navy ships designed specifically to provide power to the shore. They are however designed to be powered from the shore and this capability could be used to act as a power source.”

    My thought is that further research, queries & reporting might possibly lead to game changing federal / Navy ship to shore action in this terrible situation. I am not the person to do it; I don’t have the resources, connections or research skills. I’ve sent the idea to CNN and Think Progress. No response as yet.


  3. Thew Media makes much of the laudable efforts of citizens and volunteers for Harvey et al.
    But they conveniently downplay the real heroes without who the situation would be dire

    https://www.thenation.com/article/this-department-is-the-last-hideout-of-climate-change-believers-in-donald-trumps-government/

    Deployed to the Houston area to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, US military forces hadn’t even completed their assignments when they were hurriedly dispatched to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands to face Irma, the fiercest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. Florida Governor Rick Scott, who had sent members of the state National Guard to devastated Houston, anxiously recalled them while putting in place emergency measures for his own state. A small flotilla of naval vessels, originally sent to waters off Texas, was similarly redirected to the Caribbean, while specialized combat units drawn from as far afield as Colorado, Illinois, and Rhode Island were rushed to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, members of the California National Guard were being mobilized to fight wildfires raging across that state (as across much of the West) during its hottest summer on record.

    Think of this as the new face of homeland security: containing the damage to America’s seacoasts, forests, and other vulnerable areas caused by extreme weather events made all the more frequent and destructive thanks to climate change. This is a “war” that won’t have a name—not yet, not in the Trump era, but it will be no less real for that. “The firepower of the federal government” was being trained on Harvey, as William Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), put it in a blunt expression of this warlike approach. But don’t expect any of the military officials involved in such efforts to identify climate change as the source of their new strategic orientation, not while Commander in Chief Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office refusing to acknowledge the reality of global warming or its role in heightening the intensity of major storms; not while he continues to stock his administration, top to bottom, with climate-change deniers.

    When it came to emergency operations in Texas and Florida, the media understandably put its spotlight on moving tales of rescue efforts by ordinary folks. As a result, the military’s role in these operations was easy to miss, but it took place on a massive scale. Every branch of the armed services—the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—deployed significant contingents to the Houston area, in some cases sending along the sort of specialized equipment normally used in major combat operations. The combined response represented an extraordinary commitment of military assets to that desperate, massively flooded region: tens of thousands of National Guard and active-duty troops, thousands of Humvees and other military vehicles, hundreds of helicopters, dozens of cargo planes, and an assortment of naval vessels. And just as operations in Texas began to wind down, the Pentagon commenced a similarly vast mobilization for Hurricane Irma.

    The military’s response to Harvey began with front-line troops: the National Guard, the US Coast Guard, and units of the US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), the joint-service force responsible for homeland defense. Texas Governor Greg Abbott mobilized the entire Texas National Guard, about 10,000 strong, and guard contingents were deployed from other states as well. The Texas Guard came equipped with its own complement of helicopters, Humvees, and other all-terrain vehicles; the Coast Guard supplied 46 helicopters and dozens of shallow-water vessels, while USNORTHCOM provided 87 helicopters, four C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, and 100 high-water vehicles.

    Still more aircraft were provided by the Air Force, including seven C-17 cargo planes and, in a highly unusual move, an E-3A Sentry airborne warning-and-control system, or AWACS. This super-sophisticated aircraft was originally designed to oversee air-combat operations in Europe in the event of an all-out war with the Soviet Union. Instead, this particular AWACS conducted air-traffic control and surveillance around Houston, gathering data on flooded areas, and providing “situational awareness” to military units involved in the relief operation.

    For its part, the Navy deployed two major surface vessels, the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious-assault ship, and the USS Oak Hill, a dock-landing ship. “These ships,” the Navy reported, “are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, [and] medium and heavy lift air support.” Accompanying them were several hundred Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, along with their amphibious-assault vehicles and a dozen or so helicopters and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

    When Irma struck, the Pentagon ordered a similar mobilization of troops and equipment. The Kearsarge and the Oak Hill, with their embarked Marines and helicopters, were redirected from Houston to waters off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. At the same time, the Navy dispatched a much larger flotilla, including the USS Abraham Lincoln (the aircraft carrier on which President George W. Bush had his infamous “mission accomplished” moment), the missile destroyer USS Farragut, the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, and the amphibious transport dock USS New York. Instead of its usual complement of fighter jets, the Abraham Lincoln set sail from its base in Norfolk, Virginia, with heavy-lift helicopters; the Iwo Jima and the New York also carried a range of helicopters for relief operations. Another amphibious vessel, the USS Wasp, was already off the Virgin Islands, providing supplies and evacuating those in need of emergency medical care.


  4. Meanwhile Puerto Rico which along with the US Virgin Islands are American Territories for Geopolitical reasons, as such they have tax paying voting US citizens

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/26/trump-puerto-rico-crisis-massive-debt

    Trump launched another provocation on Monday night with a belated and lacklustre response to the Puerto Rican disaster. In a series of three tweets he effectively blamed the islanders – all of whom are American citizens – for their own misfortune.

    “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” he said, without offering any additional federal government assistance for the stricken US territory, which was hit by Hurricane Maria soon after those two states were struck by Harvey and Irma.

    Trump acknowledged that “much of the island was destroyed”, but caustically went on to say that its electrical grid was already “in terrible shape” and that Puerto Rico owed billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks “which, sadly, must be dealt with”.

    The Trump administration has also refused to waive federal restrictions on foreign ships carrying life-saving supplies to Puerto Rico – a concession it readily made for Texas and Florida in the cases of hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively.


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