Image here from a stunning photo essay in the Atlantic, highly recommended to see more at link. Jaw dropping.

The Atlantic:

Five days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, its devastating impact is becoming clearer. Most of the U.S. territory currently has no electricity or running water, fewer than 250 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers are operational, and damaged ports, roads, and airports are slowing the arrival and transport of aid. Communication has been severely limited and some remote towns are only now being contacted. Jenniffer Gonzalez, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press that Hurricane Maria has set the island back decades.

Angela Fritz in the Washington Post:

“Puerto Rico is a fantastic place and deserves the best, which is what we will deliver. Every detail will be important to me.”

If only.

President Trump said this about his failed golf course in Puerto Rico back in 2008, when he promised that his brand would revive a troubled resort and help buoy the recession that hit the island especially hard.

Instead, the resort fell into bankruptcy and left the Puerto Rican taxpayers with a nearly $33 million bill.

And this weekend, instead of talking about the plight of these 3.4 million American citizens living in total devastation, Trump posted 10 taunting tweets about the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.

But the Puerto Rican governor is worried that the mainland isn’t understanding the scope of the destruction.

“This is a major disaster, not unlike Katrina or Sandy. There is going to be a hefty toll for us to make sure that we can reestablish normalcy and build Puerto Rico back stronger,” Rosselló said.

It’s going to be more than meals and construction to bring Puerto Rico back. The destruction also hit airports and ports.

FEMA said Sunday that the U.S. Coast Guard has nine cutters in the vicinity of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are at least 5,000 FEMA workers, and the National Guard and military helicopters are helping with rescues and evacuations.
But this is going to be a long-haul effort, and it’s pretty clear that Puerto Rico isn’t topping any news cycles.

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Washington Post:

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season has not only been super active so far, but also super unlucky. In some past busy hurricane seasons, land areas have avoided some of the most extreme storms, but this year they have been a magnet.

Category 5 hurricanes have directly hit six land masses head on, leaving devastation in their wake almost every time. While just two separate hurricanes, Irma and Maria, did all the dirty work, they repeatedly found areas to target.

Brenden Moses, a researcher at the National Hurricane Center, found that of all Category 5 landfalls on record in the Atlantic since 1851, one-quarter have occurred this season. This is a remarkable statistic.

However, it’s important to remember monitoring of hurricanes was much more difficult before the advent of weather satellites in the late 1960s and storms may have been missed. That said, there is no precedent in the last half century of Category 5 storms striking land so frequently in the same season.



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.


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.

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Clearly the worst disaster potential since Katrina, and maybe much, much worse, given lack of urgency on part of American Government.

While the President tweets, 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico (comparable to Iowa, but of course, not as white) have no electricity, no water, little food – they are still flooded, trapped on an island, in tropical heat, subject to waterborne and mosquito borne diseases.
This has all the makings of a first class humanitarian disaster, and I don’t see anyone with their. hair on fire.
Wonder why?

Here’s a place to start.


Hispanic Federation:

A coalition of New York City civic leaders including Mayor Bill DeBlasio, U.S. Congress Members Nydia Velázquez and Adriano Espaillat, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have joined the Hispanic Federation and its partnering community based organizations to launch “Unidos” (United), a hurricane relief fund to help those impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

The fund will be managed by the Hispanic Federation, a leading Latino nonprofit organization with more than 25 years of experience in providing disaster-relief assistance to Latinos in the United States and Latin America. One hundred percent of the proceeds will help hurricane victims and the recovery efforts through fellow community and civic organizations in Puerto Rico.

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Thanks to the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, sponsors of the online Polar Film Festival, for selecting the above feature for the Science in Action category.

Youtube playlist of all selections here.

The Week in Graphs

September 22, 2017

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