A month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island has yet to recover from its worst natural disaster in nearly a century.
Around 30 lakh Puerto Ricans, which is more than 80% of the island’s population, still do not have electricity. More than a third of the households, or 10 lakh people, have no access to reliable drinking water at home, CNN reported.
Maria struck the island on September 20, causing widespread flooding and damaging more than 50,000 homes and infrastructure.
On Thursday, United States President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello are expected to meet at the White House to discuss rebuilding efforts, Reuters reported. Rossello’s government is already bankrupt, and disaster costs are expected to run into tens of billions. The Trump administration and US Congress are considering a $4.9-billion (over Rs 3,000 crore) loan to help Puerto Rico.
“We need to think about rebuilding Puerto Rico in a holistic way,” said Carlos Mercader, a spokesperson for the territory’s government. “All the crops are dead, agriculture is dead, housing is destroyed.”
During a visit to Puerto Rico earlier this month, Trump blamed the US territory for throwing “our budget a little bit out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money”. He reminded the crowd, more than once, how the federal government has spent a lot of money on recovery efforts.
Trump had also downplayed the devastation and said Puerto Rico must be proud that it did not lose more lives to the storm, comparing it to Hurricane Katrina.
On October 1, the US president had responded to an impassioned plea for help from the San Juan mayor by calling her remarks “fake news”.