Hurricane Maria reached Category 5 strength on September 18, 2017 just before making landfall Maria achieved its peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph. At its peak, the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities destroying Puerto Rico’s frail-antiquated power grid.
Recovery efforts have been underscored by allegations of corruption, political breakdowns and unexpected challenges to restore power to an island with some of the most treacherous terrain. Access to transmission towers is often nonexistent, overgrown with trees, or too narrow or rocky to support large work trucks.
More than 1,200 FEMA-provided generators are still the primary source of power for most of the Puerto Rico’s hospitals, police and fire stations, correctional facilities, and water pumps. At the posting of this article, we are eight months in to this crisis. There are still vast stretches of the island where there are no signs of progress and the desperation is setting in.
Without water pumps powered by generators, clean potable drinking water is scarce. A healthcare crisis is brewing. Illnesses related to contaminated drinking water have dramatically affected the health and mortality in Puerto Rico. Waterborne diseases present a significant health risk to a large segment of the population.
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Mental health issues are extreme. Doctors are seeing a significant increase in suicides, and suicide attempts, after the hurricane. The elderly population is suffering the most. Elderly patients are extremely anxious and depressed.
More federal aid is needed to prevent more disaster-related deaths and illnesses on the island.
And another hurricane season is just months away.
Save the Children's relief experts are on the ground right now, doing whatever it takes to care for the most vulnerable in any emergency: children. Learn how you can help by visiting Save the Children's Hurricane Maria Relief site.
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Take action today to support water quality monitoring in your community by contacting your local government officials and ask them to support water monitoring legislation in your community.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to protect America’s drinking water supply. Many new toxins leach into our water supply, and yet there are no new mandates to regulate any of these new chemicals.