Saturday, October 14, 2017

Puerto Rico's Untold Story

Main stream media coverage of the federal government's response to the recent natural disasters, including hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Irma and Jose, focused on feel good stories of neighbor-helping-neighbor trying to avoid stating the obvious: the federal response was the best one we have seen in the history of the nation.

That all changed when Puerto Rico took a direct hit from not one, but two hurricanes, within ten days.  Criticism levied by democrats and anti-Trumpers used identity politics claiming that the federal response was not as good because the government saw Puerto Ricans as second class citizens. 

The  San Juan Puerto Rico mayor went even further taking direct hits at President Trump & FEMA administrator claiming that federal inaction was responsible for dying children. On any given day, the mayor appeared on 1/2 dozen TV shows instead of worrying about the recovery efforts.  In one case, she complains the island does not have enough potable water, while behind her, there are pallets and pallets of bottled water.

Prior to the hurricanes, Puerto Rico had a 3rd world infrastructure, with the power grid build using toothpicks.  Puerto Rico was also on the brink of bankruptcy and incompetent/corrupt government.

FEMA's Brock Long explained that FEMA had to decide the level of assets before the first hurricane, to make sure the assets were not damaged. Whatever disaster recovery plan was put in place by the governor of Puerto Rico and the rest of the mayors is not immediately obvious.  What is obvious is that it should have included plenty of back up generators, perhapa the Tesla equipment.   Also, recently Tesla's  chief Elon Musk said his company can solve Puerto Rico's energy crisis using solar panels and batteries  

Communications back up also needed to be beefed up so that an effective command and control center could  have been assembled on short notice. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission gave Alphabet an experimental license to use its balloon-powered internet service, called Project Loon, to restore service in Puerto Rico.  This should have been tested prior to the hurricanes.  

An argument could be made that a disaster recovery plan for the power grid and communications was not done because of Puerto Rico's precarious financial status, it's leaders lack of vision, or a combination thereof  

But wait, there's more. Media coverage of disaster recovery in Texas, Louisiana and even Mexico.  In Puerto Rico we hear of the truck drivers union chief demanding three times the salary as a condition to distribute supplies.  We even hear stories of government officials hogging supplies for their own personal use.