Three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Most of the island remains without power or water; some officials predict that the electric grid may remain down for up to six months. There’s no cell service. Roads have been washed away or blocked by debris. At least sixteen are dead, and that’s just what’s known; many parts of the island are inaccessible and many people have been unable to get in touch with their friends and families.
The government has declared a state of emergency, but aid doesn’t get anywhere by itself. (Paul Ryan says that Congress is working on an aid package that should be ready in a few weeks …)
The federal government has recently waived the Jones Act, a nearly century-old law under which only ships registered in the United States may carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. Under the Jones Act, foreign vessels had to pay punitive tariffs, fees, and taxes to bring American goods to Puerto Rico, or they could reroute to Florida and offload to an American ship, an expensive procedure. These extra costs are passed on to the consumer, making prices there on U.S. goods exorbitantly high: under the Jones Act, food is twice as expensive in Puerto Rico as in Florida.
But as Senators Feinstein and Harris have told the president, Puerto Rico needs more. It needs relief for the entire island, not just the parts covered by the existing disaster declarations. It also needs long-term relief that is not being planned for. Halfway measures won’t fix this problem.
Please thank Senators Feinstein and Harris and contact your members of Congress.
SCRIPT: This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. Puerto Rico needs our help. I know that help is being given now, but there needs to be a long term relief and rebuilding plan that must include debt forgiveness. I disagree with the proposals for obscene amounts of spending for defense. I want us to nation-build Puerto Rico.
Our friends in Mexico City are recovering from a massive quake; and as Puerto Rico was recovering from Irma, it got hit with even greater force by hurricane Maria. Below are some aid agencies doing work on the ground to bring immediate relief to those affected by quake and hurricanes.
Some of the organizations based in Mexico may convert your donation into pesos, so be sure to check the currency.