Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico is unprecedented.
According to CNN, there are only a handful of hospitals working with only days worth of supplies, millions have been without phones or wifi, the Guajataca Dam is releasing water and those who live close to the dam were evacuated, and much of the island is without power for the foreseeable future. As well, the heat index on the island is hovering around 102°. With power — and air conditioning — out in many communities, infants, the ill and the elderly remain at risk.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló is calling it a “humanitarian crisis” and is calling for more federal help. “We need more resources from the Department of Defense so we can get helicopters and resources,” Rosselló told Politico.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan spoke with CNN about the destruction. "We are finding dialysis patients that haven't been able to contact their providers, so we are having to transport them in near-death conditions," Cruz said. "We are finding people whose oxygen tanks are running out, because . . . small generators now don't have any diesel."
"We need something tangible, a bill that actually answers to our need right now," Rosselló told CNN about the need for federal aid. "Otherwise, there will be . . . a massive exodus to the (mainland) United States," he warned.
The White House says efforts have been productive. "The federal response has been anything but slow," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a press conference. "There's been an unprecedented push through of billions of dollars in federal assistance." Trump, true to form, chose to insult Puerto Rico while tweeting about the crisis.
The next hours, days and weeks will be crucial if further loss of life is to be managed. The next months and years will be crucial for building a new future for the devastated island. The images below speak to just how much work lies ahead of America and how much has already been lost.
A flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Getty/Joe Raedle)
Damaged homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Naranjito, Puerto Rico. (Getty/Joe Raedle)
A person waves inside a damaged home in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (Getty/Joe Raedle)
Destruction after Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AP/Carlos Giusti)
Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico. (AP/Carlos Giusti)
Danalys Luna and Edgardo Feliciano wash their clothes, as people wait for the electrical and water grids to be repaired in Puerto Rico. (Getty/Joe Raedle)
Jose Garcia Vicente shows his destroyed home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. (Getty/Ricardo Arduengo)