Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico nearly a month ago, and the United States has just now recently started to help. Before, Whitefish Energy and Puerto Rico had dropped their controversial agreement of aid, leaving the U.S. territory helpless once again, however, New York and Florida are stepping up to help, against the opinions of members of Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Puerto Rico is still without power as part of Maria’s aftermath; Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, is only generating 30 percent of its usual output, which leaves 70 percent of Puerto Rico’s population with two options: Option one is to get a generator, and Option two is to stay in darkness. Unfortunately, most of the population has to go with Option two. The power grid is not as developed which means that PREPA does not exactly know how many people are without power, however, the ones that do have power have damages that will cost at least $1 billion dollars to repair total.
This is where Whitefish Energy, a smaller firm from Montana, came into play: Whitefish offered up a contract to Puerto Rico that was around $300 million, but this Whitefish Energy Contract got major heat from members of Congress. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency questioned how the contract was secured. Based off of prior contracts, the company had only ever taken part in small contracts, so it would make sense that the government was questioning the credibility of the contract seeing as the damage in Puerto Rico was massive compared to the company that was trying to help it.
But, half the battle is getting the general public educated in order to spread awareness, and provide outlets for people to help those suffering in Puerto Rico. So, I took to the halls of Bedford High School to see how educated students were of the recent happenings.
Most students went directly to President Trump when thinking of Puerto Rico. Veronica Gikas, a junior at BHS, was no exception and held a strong stance on what she thought of the United States’ lack of support: “So it’s [Puerto Rico] been devastated by a hurricane, and they actually have received almost no aid for the U.S. … It’s not okay, it’s terrible because they are real people, and they deserve justice. Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S., and they deserve the same rights, help, and aid as Americans.”
Other students first thought of messages from celebrities when Puerto Rico was mentioned. For instance, Emma Jane Tagliaferro, a junior, had heard of the devastation via Twitter: “I know Lin Manuel Miranda is one of the many celebrities using their social platforms and political standpoints to help the crisis in Puerto Rico.”
On Sunday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló has been looking to request “mutual aid agreements” with Florida and New York. By definition, a mutual aid agreement allows for emergency responders to assist across jurisdictional boundaries, which is common when an emergency response requires more than the local resources provide. Hopefully, this gives Puerto Rico enough support to get back to what they once were, and this story has a happy ending for the people of Puerto Rico.