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Puerto Rico Is Rapidly Becoming a Humanitarian Disaster – and They’re Not Getting Enough Help From the Federal Government

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Power Could Be Out for Months

The governor of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, told reporters Monday that the aftermath of back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria, with a direct hit on the island Commonwealth by Maria, has created a dire situation. “This is an unprecedented disaster here in Puerto Rico… The devastation is vast,” Rossello said. “One of our priorities is to reestablish power and supplies to hospitals. We are already working to that end,” he added.

Rosselló also cautioned that his administration needs much broader assistance from the federal government, calling on the Defense Department to provide more aid for law enforcement and transportation. Rosselló, who has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, told reporters that he’s also worried that Congress will shortchange his island once the initial wave of emergency relief is gone.

“We still need some more help. This is clearly a critical disaster in Puerto Rico,” he said Sunday night. “It can’t be minimized and we can’t start overlooking us now that the storm passed, because the danger lurks.”

The entire electrical power grid and infrastructure was destroyed with officials telling NCRM that it may be up to six months before repairs are completed and power is completely restored. To add to the chaos and misery, the island is also suffering under a sweltering heat wave which increases the likelihood of deaths of elderly and infirm Puerto Rican residents by heatstroke or heat aggravated medical conditions.

Power is not the only complication, as noted by The Washington Post.

“Four days after a major hurricane battered Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island in a communications and power blackout, regions outside San Juan remained disconnected from the rest of the island,” and the world. Juncos, in a mountainous region southeast of the capital that was slammed with Maria’s most powerful winds, remains isolated, alone, afraid.

“Communications has greatly hindered the relief effort according to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, a fact borne out by the staff of the Commonwealth’s lone at-large congressional representative, GOP Congresswoman Jenniffer González. Her Washington, D.C. office said that it is maintaining “sporadic” communications.

Officials for various federal agencies told NCRM Monday that recovery efforts are underway with search and rescue operations being a priority in the more remote areas of the island. But as noted by the Post, for federal agencies trying to respond to Maria, the situation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is inescapably more challenging than the situations in Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It’s difficult to get onto the islands.

The airports and harbors here were severely damaged. That means the islands are more isolated than ever, even as the humanitarian crisis has worsened by the day.

A spokesperson for the U. S. Coast Guard’s 7th District Office in Miami, PA3 Eric Woodall said that Coast Guard assets were unaffected by the hurricane as ships were ordered to sea and aircraft were dispatched to CG air stations in Florida. However, he noted, physical damages did occur to outbuildings at USCG Air Station Borinquen, PR, but Woodall said that the runway was rapidly reopened and air operations resumed. There was also some damage to USCG Sector San Juan he said but not enough to hinder CG missions.Â

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has also been fully engaged in the ongoing search and rescue efforts, according to a spokesperson, flying numerous search and rescue sorties and coordinating its efforts with the Coast Guard.

Food delivery has also become an issue as many of the major highways on the island remain blocked or heavily damage by the storm.Â

The Post noted that although massive amounts of food, water, fuel and other supplies have been dispatched by federal agencies and private organizations, with more resources on the way, this has been an obstacle-filled process.

Federal agencies have succeeded in clearing the use of the Port of San Juan for daytime operations, but other ports remain closed pending inspections. Many roads are blocked, inhibiting relief convoys. The Transportation Department has opened five airports in Puerto Rico and two in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but only for military and relief efforts.

Abner Gomez, the executive director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, (PREMA) told reporters Friday in a press gaggle and again this morning that a ruptured dam that has been barely holding back the waters of Lake Guajataca is in imminent danger of collapse, which would cause massive amounts of water to flow unabated through coastal communities causing even more destruction.

As the scramble continues to provide relief, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration is asking that concerned citizens and others who would like to assist in the efforts pleae call (202) 800-3133 or email maria1@prfaa.pr.govÂ

The Senate has not scheduled an aide package for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. You can call your Senator to demand action: (202) 224- 3121.

Those who wish to donate through a charity or non-profit can take a look at these organizations.

UPDATE:

Reporting by Brody Levesque for NCRM, the Washington Post, & Agency France Presse 

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

Image by U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Flickr and a CC licenseÂ

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Every House Republican But One Just Voted to Shut Down the Federal Government

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212 House Republicans – all who voted but one – voted to shut down the entire federal government Thursday evening. It was an act that would have massive implications for many Americans, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of a new variant, and as the holiday travel season quickly approaches.

The continuing resolution passed 221-212 thanks solely to Democrats and Republican Adam Kinzinger.

Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia “was speaking for virtually her entire conference,” Axios reporter Andrew Solender said in a tweet, when she demanded, “shut it down.”

“This government should be shut down,” Greene angrily cried . “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”

“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” she continued, claiming they “don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”

The crisis is not yet over. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where a small group of Republicans, and currently it appears Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, are demanding Democrats “defund” President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Stay tuned.
 

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Watch: Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for Government Shutdown Because ‘The People in Here Cannot Control Themselves’

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Congress has about 30 hours to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to allow the federal government to stay open past Friday midnight. And while nearly everyone is on board, from President Joe Biden to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, some powerful members of Congress are trying to prevent the CR from passing.

They include Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who oppose vaccine mandates and are trying to include an amendment to “defund” President Biden’s executive order.

And then there’s Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just wants to shut it down.

Literally, those were her words: “shut it down.”

“This government should be shut down,” Greene said minutes ago on the House floor, as Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports. “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”

Why is Greene demanding a full federal government shutdown?

“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” declared Greene, who was stripped of all her committee assignments almost immediately upon being sworn in to Congress. “The people in here don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”

According to information from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget shutting down the federal government could force TSA and air traffic controllers to work without pay, and could halt new applications for federal assistance like Medicare, and halt EPA and FDA inspections – possibly leading to massive illness on top of the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.

That’s just for starters.

New mortgage and loan approvals could be halted as the IRS would be unable to verify Social Security numbers, and people who receive food stamps could lose that vital source of funds.

 

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Joe Manchin Appears to Be Siding With Republicans Who Are Pushing to Shut Down the Government Over Vaccine Mandates

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‘Quickly Turning Into a Joe Manchin Rodeo’

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is being described as the necessary and “most likely” the “51st vote” for shutting down the federal government over President Joe Biden’s vaccine “mandate.” Republicans, especially Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, are working to pass an amendment that would ban vaccine mandates nationwide, in exchange for voting to keep the federal government open, just weeks before Christmas.

Sen. Mike Lee, a far right pro-Trump Christian conservative from Utah, “wants an amendment to strip money from vax mandates at 50-vote threshold.” says Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman. “If he gets it, he’ll consent to speed up proceedings, which would likely — almost certainly — avoid a shutdown.”

If he doesn’t, it’s possible the federal government could shut down on Friday.

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis says “as with most things round these parts, this is quickly turning into a Joe Manchin rodeo.”

CNN’s Manu Raju adds that Sen. Manchin “doesn’t rule out supporting [an] amendment to DEFUND vaccine mandate on businesses. This is why Republican Sens. Marshall and Lee are demanding a 51-vote threshold. Says he backs mandate on feds but tells us he’s ‘less enthused’ with business mandate.”

At CNN Raju and other reporters explain the situation:

Key negotiators from both parties announced a plan Thursday morning that would keep the federal government funded, but due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday, and a handful of GOP senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules.

Stay tuned.

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