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More than 3 million American citizens have been living without food, clean drinking water, shelter, medical assistance and communication with the outside world in the wake of a disastrous hurricane that leveled the majority of Puerto Rico.
An island just over 1,000 miles from Florida, Puerto Rico waited far too long for relief from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and while relief efforts are now underway, these American citizens living on American soil deserve better.
The death toll is reported at 16 as of press time. That number will likely grow.
Most towns and villages have been inaccessible since Maria ravaged the island and there has been little to no headway in efforts in clearing the way. This means the damage cannot be assessed.
This also means that there is no way to know if there are more people starving, dehydrated and waiting for help.
In comparison, the response to hurricanes that hit South Texas and Houston and Florida last month was quick and effective.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration was quick to the scene. The Red Cross had shelters and services available before the hurricanes even made landfall.
Only days after Harvey hit Houston, ordinary Texans hauled boats to the affected areas and pulled people out of flooded houses.
Churches, businesses and rec centers opened their doors to refugees.
While Puerto Rico has been in the news, the disaster and needs there have been overshadowed by a debate about overpaid entertainers kneeling during the national anthem.
The needs of these Americans have only begun receiving an appropriate amount of attention in the past few days.
Relief efforts have been slow.
Response from government officials has been even slower.
President Donald Trump’s response to Puerto Rico has been despicable, especially when it is clear from relief efforts throughout September that we can do better.
There is no excuse for Americans to be left like this.
It is the duty of governments to protect those they govern.
Instead, our president has been involved in a public relations war with the NFL.
The situation has become so dire and help is so slow moving that the Pentagon has moved without FEMA and without other federal aid, sending the Navy and thousands of troops to jumpstart relief.
This should never have been necessary.
The United States needs to take three primary steps: clear the streets and begin the unacceptably long overdue process of clearing houses, mobilize medical assistance and get food, water and resources to Puerto Ricans.
The Et Cetera calls for a change in attitude and actions from the government.
Instead of attacking expressions of free speech, the president should be leading the charge to render aid.
Instead of congratulating himself for non-existent victories in aid efforts, Trump should be taking action.