Puerto Rico faces the overwhelming task of recovering from the great devastation brought upon the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and officials have been calling on the Trump administration to be swift in delivering ample federal aid for its relief.
On Monday, September 25, the President did address the devastation, but not before he was torched by many who feel his rhetorical tangents are a distraction from the more urgent matter facing the U.S. commonwealth. One public figure speaking out from the chorus of voices calling for action is Grammy Award-winning singer and actor Marc Anthony, who slammed the President hours before he turned his attention towards the U.S. citizens who populate the island.
“Mr. President, shut the f**k up about NFL. Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico. We are American citizens too,” Anthony, 49, tweeted.
Although Marc Anthony was born in New York City, as the son of Puerto Rican migrants who has made his name as one of the great Salsa musicians of any era, his name is synonymous with Puerto Rico. Since Maria tore through the island as a Category 5 storm, only days after Hurricane Irma did damage, Anthony has been one of the busier celebrities attempting to draw donations from fans. And his ex-wife, Jennifer Lopez has come right behind him, with calls for continued contributions on the back of her own $1 million pitch towards relief.
Reports from the ground have told of at least 16 deaths, with the possibility that that toll will rise, as many struggle without adequate power or drinking water, and hospitals deal with being overburdened. As it stands, public institutions, businesses, and individuals who have been able to enjoy electricity have done so via generators, with experts projecting that it will be months before the lights go back on for the general population. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has called upon the Defense Department to send a Navy Medical ship and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is urging her Republican counterparts to approve a sufficient relief package.
FEMA currently has 10,000 federal employees helping with efforts in the commonwealth, as food, water, and spare generators make their way to the needy, but the island's Governor Ricardo Rossello says it will not be enough unless Congress steps up aid. "We need something tangible, a bill that actually answers to our need right now. Otherwise, there will be ... a massive exodus to the mainland United States," he has said. On Monday, Trump hinted that aid would continue to come in, but in the same breath, he made reference to Puerto Rico's debt, which received backlash from those who felt the remark was ill-timed and insensitive.
“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” the President tweeted. “It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks, which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well #FEMA.”