October 22, 2017

Editorial: Powering up help to Puerto Rico

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Flickr / National Guard

There's much work left to be done to get Puerto Rico back to normal post-Hurricane Maria.

Irma. Jose. Maria. Here, we heard these names among an extraordinary lineup of September hurricanes.

Puerto Rico remembers them well. In turns they battered the U.S. territory — especially Maria, which hit as a Category 4 monster on Sept. 20. It caused death and destruction on a scale officials a month later are still sorting out.

By the look of things in many parts of the island the historic onslaught could have happened yesterday. Power remains out to about 80 percent of the island — that’s 80 percent of the nearly 3.5 million American citizens (about 2.8 million, or roughly the population of New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island combined).

About a quarter of the population is without public drinking water, according to various reports. Other services, from sewage treatment to gasoline pumps to ATM machines, are also agonizingly slow to get up and running again. Crops were wiped out.

It’s worth remembering here, too, that despite President Trump’s callous treatment of this devastating natural disaster — as if sending relief is some sort of charity or goodwill, rather than his obligation — that Puerto Rico pays more than $3 billion annually in federal business, payroll and estate taxes.

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