Total devastation and apocalyptic conditions are all Puerto Rico has been left with after Hurricane Maria unleashed catastrophic winds and storm surges. The storm knocked out power for nearly all the 3.4 million residents and demolished most structures on an island already struggling after years of a sluggish economy and burgeoning debt.
The category 4 hurricane is the strongest to hit the territory in over 80 years. Food and water resources are running low, generators are running out of fuel, and people are losing hope. The entire agricultural sector was wiped out.
While police are always the first line of defense in these emergency situations, it has been near impossible for the agencies in Puerto Rico to handle this situation on their own.
In a press conference yesterday afternoon President Donald Trump said that “the police force in Puerto Rico has been decimated because so many officers have lost their homes.”
Sustained winds of over 155 mph and historic flooding has taken the lives of 45 people, including two police officers who died when their patrol vehicles became trapped in the floodwaters.
As a part of response and recovery efforts, Puerto Rico PD veterans Angel Lorenzo-Gonzalez and Hector Matias-Torres were at the end of their 24-hour shift when they were attempting to return to the police station. Their cars were washed into the Culebrinas River and disappeared in minutes. Their bodies were recovered by officials the following day. Lorenzo-Gonzalez served 21 years with the Puerto Rico Police Department and Matias-Torres served 22 years with the department.
As this was written Puerto Rio is facing a major humanitarian crisis. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is optimistic that they will recover from this disaster, but it will take time, money, and resources.
While he credits the Trump administration and FEMA for responding “quickly” and “appropriately,” Rosselló said more resources and help was urgently needed.
by Brianna Dunn