Salem Stands with Puerto Rico, Humanitarian Relief Sought to Save American Lives, Reactions

puerto ricoHumanitarian crisis after hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico where 3.4 million American citizens wait in darkness (without power and water) since its blow to the island.
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Over three weeks after hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the most powerful to hit the U.S. territory in almost 100 years, and the island is still over 90 percent without power and water, according to many islanders and media reports. The U.S. citizens living in PR are still trying to fulfill their basic needs of food, water, electricity, and gas. For over 45 people, according to local government officials, the help did not arrive early enough. That number could reach well into the hundreds once the full range of devastation is known.

A couple of weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump decided to survey the island’s conditions and assistance. What he said and did was, according to many islanders, the worst insults they’ve heard in their lives.

A week prior to the visit to the island Trump decided that, instead of focusing on the grave humanitarian crisis that the people of the island are facing, the best course of action was to attack Carmen Yulín Cruz, San Juan Mayor, via Twitter. Trump also lambasted Puerto Ricans by tweeting that “they want everything to be done for them.” As a result, many took to social media to condemn Trump’s unwarranted written assaults.

 

One of them, Lin Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” creator, replied to Trump via Twitter, when he read Trump’s tweets to Yulín Cruz.

“You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.”

A CNN story does the best job at explaining the divisiveness that this president, unlike any other prior to him, has created in America and abroad, especially the diatribe aimed at the 3.4 million Americans living in Puerto Rico who are in crisis.

“His lone goal is winning at all costs. If that means attacking the mayor of San Juan even as Puerto Rico faces a historic recovery challenge, so be it. If it means blaming Puerto Rico’s debt and infrastructure issues even as people are desperately searching for their loved ones, well, that’s just how it goes. If it means trying to build the media up as a scapegoat to cover up a slower-than-ideal response to Maria’s aftermath? Consider it done!” read the CNN story (https://goo.gl/gsBndP).

In an act of solidarity, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), spoke to Yulín Cruz to offer her support to the Mayor.

“I just got off the phone with Mayor @CarmenYulinCruz,” read a Tweet from the Senator. “I told her to keep up her heroic work & leadership on behalf of Puerto Rico.”

And, Puerto Ricans are hurting in more ways—the psychological distress seems to be taking its toll too.

“It’s like if I were living in another country, not governed by the United States, not the PR I knew. The only time when I can turn it all off is when I sleep at nights,” said Patricia M. Ocasio, an Arecibo resident, to The Rainbow Times. “Then, when you wake up in the morning, you realize that the nightmare is actually the reality we live in now.

“There are those who are desperate and trying to harm or steal goods and even generators from others. We stay indoors hoping that we can use whatever we have left without running out of food. It’s depressing. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just don’t. I never thought I’d experience anything like this. I am at a loss for words.”

Those who live near the few gas stations open part-time to help people replenish their gas tanks express that people are making continued failed trips without acquiring the valued commodity.

“I am 81 years old and I went out with [husband’s name] at 3 a.m. to get in line to see if we could get our gas tank filled,” said Aida de León, a resident of Carolina in San Juan. “We were able to be in line because it was early on. The weather is so hot here that we can’t be out after 9 a.m. because it is really unbearable after that.”

 

Many other residents around the island, and even in the capital region, have had to wash clothes by hand at any body of water available to them.

“I waited almost 7 hours to be able to wash some clothes at a laundromat because I can’t use my washer at home,” said Madelene Sánchez, a Gurabo resident. “To get gasoline, if you can get it at all, you must wait in line for 7-8 hours. It’s a total crisis and a vicious circle. We all continue to wonder about Trump’s help because we’re hurting and we’re desperate. Many people who had jobs prior are without them now since the island is without power.”

The commonwealth, according to media reports, remains littered with electrical wires, fallen trees, impassable roads, flooded streets and flattened vegetation, as well homes that have been destroyed. Desperate family members in the U.S. continue trying to contact their loved ones on the island using the phone application Zello, to communicate with one another and to help from a distance.

“My nephew in the U.S. has more information for me [living here in Puerto Rico] than what I can get from my brother in Arecibo,” said de León. “I rely on him for that and to read me the news about what’s happening on the island. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what is being reported about it. That is how bad this is. We need help, we really do!”

In Salem Massachusetts, Mayor Kim Driscoll released a statement in late September about the crisis and the moral obligation people have to help the island.

“Close to 1,600 Salem residents are Puerto Rican,” said Mayor Driscoll. “They are our neighbors and fellow citizens, and today they need our support. While relief efforts and agencies are working on establishing better ways to deliver goods and supplies to the island, we have been told the quickest way to send aid is by making a donation. A financial donation to a local relief effort on the island will not only provide immediate help, it will contribute to rebuilding of the Puerto Rican economy.”

Donations can be made through the _United for Puerto Rico_ campaign organized by Puerto Rico’s First Lady Beatriz Rosselló or through the _One America Appeal_ organized by all five former U.S. Presidents.

United for Puerto Rico: unidosporpuertorico.com/en/

One America Appeal: www.oneamericaappeal.org/

On October 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be a relief drive held at the Immaculate Conception Parish (basement) located at 15 Hawthorne Boulevard in Salem, as part of “Salem Stands With Puerto Rico” efforts. Suggested items to donate are: water, non-perishable food, diapers, wipes, baby formula & bottles, baby food, blankets, towels, gently-used clothes, new underwear for all ages, mosquito repellent, first-aid items, flashlights, candles, batteries, toilet paper and paper towels. Monetary donations are also welcome. “Salem Stands With Puerto Rico” is seeking volunteers to assist in this collection effort. For more information contact: lucycorchado@yahoo.com or lassade@salem.com.

“We are witnessing an impending humanitarian crisis to our neighbors and fellow Americans in Puerto Rico,” said Lucy Corchado, president of the Point Neighborhood Association and a Puerto Rican herself. “We need to show who we are as human beings, regardless of any title or beliefs, and help those who are in desperate need. It is not an exaggeration to say this situation is life-threatening. We not only have the ability but the moral obligation to do what we can to alleviate the distress our neighbors are feeling. Let’s show a united Salem helping Puerto Rico!”

In addition, The Boston Foundation (TBF) has created a Fund called “Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico.”

“The money gathered will be distributed for relief and reconstruction of the island of Puerto Rico and to respond to the substantial migration of Puerto Ricans who will arrive in Boston and throughout the commonwealth in the months ahead,” reports TBFs website (www.tbf.org). “Up to one third will be immediately distributed for relief efforts and 2/3 will be deployed over the next 2 years for reconstruction and economic recovery projects in Puerto Rico and to support resettlement efforts in the commonwealth.”

“We are witnessing an impending humanitarian crisis to our neighbors and fellow Americans in Puerto Rico,” said Lucy Corchado, president of the Point Neighborhood Association and a Puerto Rican herself. “We need to show who we are as human beings, regardless of any title or beliefs, and help those who are in desperate need. It is not an exaggeration to say this situation is life-threatening. We not only have the ability but the moral obligation to do what we can to alleviate the distress our neighbors are feeling. Let’s show a united Salem helping Puerto Rico!”

[From a TRT Exclusive Report and a News Release]


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