Puerto Rico still recovering after the effects of Hurricane Maria

More than four months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still in recovery. FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, continues to supply Puerto Rico with 46 million liters of water and four million meals and snacks, but many wonder if this will be enough.

The current haggard state of Puerto Rico is greatly impacting the education of many of its students. 21 schools closed by the time students returned in January due to destruction or a staggering enrollment. More than 25,000 students and 200 teachers have left the island. Of the 1,110 schools still open, one-third of them had no power. Some teachers have resorted to going to local establishments such as Burger King in order to print worksheets.

Nearly a fourth of schools may be closed for good; Secretary of Education Julia Keleher says 300 may be shut down. This is likely due to the many students who have left for schools in other areas. While some believe that this may provide other schools more money for supplies and rebuilding, some vocal groups believe that it hinders children who go to school in rural communities from receiving an education. Not only is Puerto Rico recovering financially and rebuilding its infrastructure, but the people are also recovering emotionally: some students still grow fearful in classrooms when it begins to rain.

The impact of Puerto Rico’s staggering recovery is felt on the mainland as well. With the latest strain of the flu, hospitals in mainland United States need continuous supplies to maintain sanitation. However, since many IV bags and other medical equipment are made in Puerto Rico, some hospitals are running short of vital supplies and the spreading flu is beginning to be seen as a crisis.

Even with the government’s budget of $81 billion towards post-hurricane repairs, Puerto Rico may still  need more as this package must be split with other recovering areas such as Texas and Florida. Puerto Rico previously estimated that they would need $94.4 billion in order to rebuild infrastructure and make it more resilient. Even before the hurricane, waste, water, and electric systems were in need of repair; if they are not improved now, it will not be long until more money will need to be allotted in order to fix them after the next major storm. 

San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, believes Trump to be a hypocrite when mentioning Puerto Rican recovery after Hurricane Maria in his State of the Union speech. She claims that, although he claims to help Puerto Rico, he has done little to aid the country in the long run.

Puerto Rico continues to recover, with more than 28% of citizens lacking power, water, or both. Many students struggle to finish homework before the sun goes down, or choose to head to the mainland for an education. Many question if the disaster relief is enough and the government questions how it will cope the next time a big storm occurs.