After Hurricane Maria first hit in September nearly 60 percent of the island is still without electricity.
Support given by local artists, communities, associations, foundations and churches to Puerto Rico’s hurricane victims far exceeds official aid received from the U.S., according to an organization on the tiny U.S. territory.
“Remember that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is an insurance that is paid for the mortgages of all in Puerto Rico,” the Independentista Nacional Hostosiano Movement, MINH, said in a statement.
The slowness and pettiness of the federals contrasts with the immediacy and determination of the recovery of the people of Puerto Rico through their communities and organizations.”
Cuba offered to assist the Caribbean island with reconstruction of both its electrical and medical systems, while Venezuela provided diesel fuel. Artists, athletes and “brother countries” offered additional support, but were blocked by federal agencies under a law dating back to the 1920s.
“If it were not for that immediate collective coherence of our people, we were still pulling dead people out of the rubble,” the statement continued. “Do not depend on what the ‘other’ will do for us. Do not rest until you have the desired result. Let’s continue sharing what we have with the most needy. It has been and will be the backbone on which we will build the new Puerto Rico that is not only possible, but necessary.”
Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the Board of Supervision and Financial Administration for Puerto Rico, has told the U.S. Congress that the island requires emergency funds “on an unprecedented scale” to rebuild homes and restore water and electricity services.
Since the hurricane first hit in September, thousands of people have had to be housed in temporary shelters. Tens of thousands of homes still have no roof, and nearly 60 percent of the island is still without electricity.
The board estimated that Puerto Rico will require at least US$21 billion over the next two years to “guarantee the provision of basic government functions,” including fire crews, police, teachers and other public employees. Puerto Rican authorities estimate the island has suffered between US$45 million and US$95 million in damages.