Puerto Rico, A Disaster by any measure

Hurricane Maria: Puerto Ricans Plead for More Federal Aid to Devastated Island

Puerto Ricans described desperate conditions on the hurricane-ravaged island and pleaded for more help from federal agencies on Monday, with some saying they felt the U.S. territory was being forgotten.

“It looks like a bomb went off,” said Monique Casablanca, 37, by phone from Ocean Park in the capital of San Juan.

“I’ve seen very little to no police presence, I’ve seen zero military presence. Nights are excruciating, there’s screaming, there’s gunshots. It’s hot, so it’s hard to sleep right now I haven’t slept in 48 hours,” said Casablanca, a rental property manager.

 No End in Sight for Puerto Rico Relief Effort After Hurricane Maria 1:52

Casablanca said that while she had seen Federal Emergency Management Agency workers visit the area a few days ago, she had not seen them since.

“You feel like you’re forgotten. I’m in an area that’s flooded and there’s basically dead animals — cats, dogs, rats just floating around — the smell is crazy and I don’t see anyone here anywhere as of today or yesterday,” she said.

“We need more of everything, we need help,” she said.

Federal agencies rescuing people and delivering humanitarian aid to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria faced an island that remains largely without power, running water, fuel and access to cell service on Monday, five days after the storm first made landfall.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long and Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert arrived on the island on Monday and met Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan as relief crews continued to work to provide much needed supplies to the island.

More than 10,000 federal staff, including 700 FEMA personnel, were on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, assisting with rescue efforts, restoring power and getting badly needed supplies to parts of the islands, a FEMA spokesperson said on Monday evening.

“While significant progress is being made, there is still a long way to go,” the FEMA spokesperson said in a statement Monday evening. “As access to ports, airfields, and roads continues to become available, additional resources will continue to flow into hard hit areas.”

“FEMA and our federal partners continue 24-hour operations, conducting search and rescue operations, bringing additional essential commodities to the islands, and restoring power at critical facilities with generators, and the fuel needed to power them,” the spokesperson added.

Nine search and rescue were working “around the clock” in the region, FEMA said in a tweet earlier Monday.

The agency said that it had provided more than 1.5 million meals, 1.1 million liters of water and nearly 12,000 emergency roofing kits.

 National Guard Units Across the Country Join Puerto Rico Relief Effort 2:30

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said Monday that Long and Bossert were sent to assess the damage from the ground.

“We’ve done unprecedented movement in terms of federal funding to provide for the people of PR and others that have been impacted by these storms,” she said during the White House press briefing. “We’ll continue to do so and continue to do everything that we can possibly under the federal government to provide assistance.”

Trump tweeted Monday night that while Texas and Florida were “doing great” in the aftermath’s of the recent hurricanes, Puerto Rico “is in deep trouble.”

“It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated,” he tweeted, adding that “Much of the Island was destroyed.”

Trump had not tweeted about Puerto Rico since last Thursday.

Maria was the third major storm to hit U.S. shores in just a month, after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey wreaked havoc across the Caribbean and southeastern U.S.

Maria, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, has been blamed for 16 deaths on Puerto Rico, officials said Monday.

 Hurricane Maria: Dam in Puerto Rico is in danger of failing 2:24

William Booher, director of public affairs for FEMA, told the Associated Press on Saturday there was no difference in the agency’s response in Puerto Rico, compared with Texas, Louisiana or Florida after recent hurricanes. FEMA has had sufficient resources to deal with back-to-back-to-back hurricanes, he said, adding that “we’ve been able to address each one of them.”

Rossello also praised federal relief efforts on Monday and said FEMA was doing a “phenomenal job,” according to the Associated Press.

But earlier Monday, he also said the island was facing an “unprecedented disaster” and called for swift action from President Donald Trump’s administration.

“Given Puerto Rico’s fragile economic recovery prior to the storms, we ask the Trump Administration and U.S. Congress to take swift action to help Puerto Rico rebuild,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, advocates, residents and officials implored the federal government to send more help and take seriously the long-term impact Maria would have for Puerto Rico.

Image: A man stands on a car on a  flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan
A man stands on a car on a flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico on on Sept. 25. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Frances Colón, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Cenadores, said the “scale of the federal response right now is not on scale with the level of devastation.” Colón formed Cenadores to organize Puerto Ricans on the mainland to volunteer to help the island.

“We still have townships not reached. The government had a diesel ship parked in the bay and the government and National Guard is so maxed out they couldn’t ensure security so the fuel could reach its destination,” said Colón, who lives in Miami and worked 12 years for the State Department as a science and technology adviser. “We need boots on the ground from the federal government. We need FEMA, National Guard, a federal response at [Hurricane] Katrina scale.”

“Everyone is overwhelmed because the disaster is bigger than everyone,” she said.

Image: People sit in their apartment with the window blown out in San Juan
People sit in their apartment with the window blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico on on Sept. 25. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

“The response can’t be tepid. It’s been a week and still communication is down and there are towns that haven’t been reached.”

PHOTOS: Hurricane Maria Lashes Puerto Rico, Storm-Battered Caribbean

Armando Valdés Prieto, a lawyer who has been helping with volunteer operations in San Juan said he felt the sheer magnitude of the devastation on the island made distributing federal aid difficult.

“The scope and magnitude of what’s going on is so large that I’m not entirely sure that they really know where to start,” he said by phone Monday afternoon.

He said that while he felt a lot was being done, being unable to communicate with parts of the island compounded problems.

“We’re still kind of in an assessment phase where I guess it’s a little hard to gauge whether or not things are being done right,” he added.

Related: Puerto Rico Holds Its Breath Over Hurricane-Battered Dam

Image: Downed trees surround damaged homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria
Downed trees surround damaged homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 25 in Naranjito, Puerto Rico. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Adding to the island’s woes is stifling heat. San Juan tied for its maximum temperature at 94 degrees on Sunday, according to the NWS.

“It’s really, really hot and there’s not a lot of respite from the heat,” said Valdés Prieto, adding that many people did not have electrical power and could not use their air conditioners.

And the island’s Aqueduct and Sewer Authority said Monday that only about 40 percent of their customers, or 500,000 people, had water service.

North Korea is a Threat We Can’t Ignore

Can You Survive a North Korea Missile Launch

The media, including Saturday Night Live, have continually made fun of North Korea and Kim Jong-un.  What really is the threat from this tiny country so far away from our USA boarders anyway?

What if we go to war?  North Korea has quite a large military and no one seems to be talking about this.  If a ground war were to break out, we would definitely need support from other world powers to put their military in a defeatist retreat quickly.

1 China 2,333,000
2 United States 1,492,200
3 India 1,325,000
4 North Korea 1,190,000

This kind of war would definitely make Afghanistan and Iraq look small in comparison.  With large numbers of people, we would need to focus on high tech and very powerful responses from our military to address the numbers of troops.

North Korea has Nuclear capabilities.

Yes their nuclear programs are decades behind ours and much of the other world powers, but they don’t need large numbers to create a very large disruption to our way of life.  Just a single nuclear detonation near a populated area would end just about all modern communications, contaminate large areas including possibly water supplies, food supplies, electric systems, and many modern technologies that we have grown so accustomed to relying on.  This type of detonation above an area could cause a crippling EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) that could possibly short circuit many of today’s modern electronic equipment.  The problem with a high altitude detonation is that, “We just don’t know what damage it may cause”.   Our electrical grid is fragile, antiquated, and many of our large transformers are very old and if damaged can take years to rebuild or replace.

With recent claims, “Kim Jong Un also said Saturday, September 16th, 2017 (his regime would complete its final goal to “establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option.”  While this is not surprising due to all of the Saber rattling the North Korean leader does, it does show that Kim Jong Un is getting desperate and that is unsettling in and of itself.  Now what many people do not know however is that a while back, North Korea launched 2 satellites that did achieve orbit and are still circling the earth today.

Those two satellites are however not in a geostationary orbit as one would expect a weather satellite to be which are what North Korea claims they are.  The trouble is that they are not emitting any signals at all.  NOTHING is heard from them so they are either not functioning, or they are not weather satellites.  They are the size of a washing machine which is just the right size for an EMP bomb that is waiting for a command from earth to detonate. They pass quietly over the US several times a day while most people have no idea that they are even there. (source )

 

So what can you do to prepare, you ask?  If a bomb drops on your home, not much.  You can prepare though.  Water after air, is by far the most important.  What is the first thing that the national guard delivers to disaster areas?  Water, Water, Water….  People stocking up on guns, ammo, and other similar items and these are definitely fun and exciting for the enthusiast, but when disaster strikes, you will need water and food.  As stated in our company’s mantra, you can live 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 30 days without food.  Yes….you wouldn’t want to try to live 30 days without food, but with my own body shape, you would survive.  Water is the most important thing you can control.  Silver Ceramic water filters remove radioactive particles and bacteria from water sources.  UV sterilization addresses virus, and active carbon will address VOC’s chemicals. (Water Purification Systems)

Potasium Iodide is another item you need for your family.  What does potasium iodide do?  KI (potassium iodide) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine that can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, thus protecting this gland from radiation injury. The thyroid gland is the part of the body that is most sensitive to radioactive iodine. (Buy KI)

When the grid goes down, all power sources will cease.  How will you cook your food?  Many people will have to rely on centuries old wood fired and propane cooking systems.  The ability to efficiently cook when the need arrives will be extremely important.  Stock up on propane and always keep a couple spare tanks on hand.  Camping cook stoves work well, but the fuel tanks are expensive and don’t last very long.  You may consider a wood stove, rocket stove, or small pot belly stove.  No electricity needed, but you do need to have access to some wood source.  Rocket stoves are by far the most efficient wood cooking sources.  They only require small sticks and wood no bigger than your thumb, to cook an entire meal for your family.  They are small, compact, portable and easy to light and maintain.

Stock up on essentials.  Medication, toilet paper, feminine products, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and the ever important baby wipes for hygiene.  Take a quick inventory of your family’s needs and talk to your family to develop a plan.  Where to meet in the event of a disaster?  What items can you and others in your family contribute.  Everyone doesn’t necessarily have to rely on one’s own resources.  Pool your resources with family and close friends and build a network of materials, expertise, and supplies you will need to perceiver.

SHTFandGO.com Staff- Plan, Prepare, Protect

Hurricane and Other Natural Disasters Tips

We have had two major hurricane that hit many places and while some were prepared many were not. Here are some tips for preparing yourself and family.

  1. Anyone who isn’t a prepper is nuts. I’ll just start off with that blanket statement. Are you prepared for a hurricane as everyone is fighting over cases of water bottles at the store. Having a mean to filter and distill water would be the long term solution.
  2. Don’t go through any medical procedure the day before a hurricane hits. If it gets infected there are no medical service available short of a trip to the ER.
  3. Get flood insurance, even if you live in an area that doesn’t traditionally flood. Homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by water coming into your house.
  4. Charge all electronics, including solar battery chargers, in the days leading up to something like this. Afterwards, just keep them fully charged, since power outages happen regularly.
  5. Social media is an absolute necessity in times like this. Facebook groups have popped up, connecting neighbor with neighbor and allowing us to loan/borrow things like box fans, extension cords, chain saws, and the like. People are coming out of the woodwork to help out, and it’s because of Facebook.
  6. Nextdoor.com is another life saver.
  7. Heavy duty galoshes (rain boots) can be worth their weight in gold. Trudging through inches and feet of floodwater can be dangerous without boots.
  8. Always have a few filled gas cans around.
  9. If you do make a run to the grocery store in the days leading up to a big storm or something similar, go ahead and throw in some goodies you don’t normally buy.
  10. Get a few solar lights or lanterns.  When our power was out, these lights and lantern are just perfect for providing enough light for a work area or for reading.
  11. Your relatives and friends are going to worry about you, so just accept that and get used to repeating the same information again and again. How wonderful to have people who care about your safety!
  12. Call your insurance company or agent ASAP. They will respond to claims in the order received, so get in there early.
  13. If you experience damage that FEMA may help cover, register with them ASAP also. You’ll receive a registration number. Save that on your cell phone and email it to yourself so it will always be handy.
  14. If you do lose everything, or at least a LOT of what you own, go ahead and cry and ignore people who say things like, “It’s just things. You’re lucky to be alive.” It’s okay to grieve over ruined things. They were a part of your life. They represented what was once normal and now that is gone, at least for now. Cry all you want to and need to without making any excuses.
  15. If you think you may end up without power, go on that assumption and prepare. Run small loads of laundry once a day, run the dishwasher, even when it’s only half full. If the power goes out, you’ll be starting out with clean clothes and dishes.
  16. Pressure canning can be one way to preserve meat that is in the freezer in a power outage. Again, if you think your power may go out, start canning that meat right away. If you have a gas range, you can do the canning without electricity.
  17. You’ll need matches to light the burners on your gas range when the power goes out. Make sure you have plenty of matches. Buy 3 or 4 big boxes. They’re cheap.
  18. Prepare your home for guests. In the case of hundreds or thousands of people being displaced, a very simple way to help is to open up your home, even if just for a few hours. Provide a peaceful, safe haven for families who have lost everything. I think hospitality is greatly overlooked when it comes to disaster recovery.
  19. Not all phone weather apps are the same. Find one you like.
  20. Be prepared for emotional ups and downs.
  21. Get outside when you can do so safely.
  22. Bicycles can get places where vehicles cannot. On a bike you’ll be able to check out storm damage, visit neighbors, run errands, and get fresh air and exercise at the same time.
  23. Be aware of downed electrical wires.
  24. Think about all the volunteers who are going to be thirsty and hungry. Pack brown bag lunches for them and have the  kids help out.
  25. One thing we all take for granted is clean laundry. People with flooded homes will not be able to do laundry and wearing damp, dirty clothes for hours and maybe days at a time is uncomfortable and disheartening. Offer to do laundry for them as an easy way to volunteer.
  26. Buy a few respirators when you begin cleaning out flooded homes. During the Katrina clean-up, many people contracted debilitating illnesses due to inhaling mold and mildew spores.
  27. Consider how you’ll care for your pets both during and after a disaster. Stock up on pet food and kitty litter, if you have cats. If your home is damaged, how will you keep your pets from running away? Make sure you have kennels for them and they are wearing collars with ID tags and have been microchipped.
  28. If you see a stray pet, keep it safe until you can find its owner. Animal shelters are quickly overwhelmed and at capacity. Use Facebook groups for your town and community and Nextdoor.com to reunite pets and owners.
  29. Children may be the most traumatized group of all. Don’t overburden them with your every random thought about doom and gloom! Give them constructive things to do, so they feel they are contributing something important to the family’s survival.
  30. If you are going to help with flood recovery, be sure to wear protective gear, including the respirator mentioned above. Wear boots that go above your ankle a few inches to protect from snake bites and fire ants and heavy work gloves.
  31. Don’t advertise on social media or elsewhere that your home has been flooded and you’re leaving. This just gives looters information that will help them locate your home, specifically.
  32. Even if you can’t help with actual demo work inside flooded homes, you can loan tools, small generators, filled gas cans, work gloves, extension cords, and fans. Label them with your name and phone number but in the madness of storm recovery, you may not get them back.
  33. Stock up on those black, heavy duty trash bags. They’ll come in handy for storm debris, ruined food, mildewed clothes, pieces of wet sheetrock, etc.
  34. Fill your freezer with bags of ice. It will come in handy during while power is out and can be used to keep food and drinks cold for volunteers and rescue workers.
  35. When floodwater is coming in, turn off your electricity at the main breaker and keep it off.
  36. With road closures, you may not have clear passage to help out at shelters, help neighbors muck out their homes, and reach rescue workers, so be prepared to walk. A heavy duty wagon is super helpful at a time like this, as is a bike trailer, for carrying tools, food, and other supplies.
  37. Take both video and photos of your home’s belongings. Some insurance companies prefer one over the other so have both.
  38. As you replace ruined belongings, carpet, sheetrock, and the like, keep every single receipt. If you can, scan them and save them to the cloud or email the scanned images to yourself.
  39. Don’t be surprised if you are overwhelmed with kind offers of help.
  40. Take care of yourself. You’re going to need a mental break every now and then.
  41. Use some kind map app to find look for road closures, which is immensely helpful.
  42. If you don’t know your neighbors now, you soon will! Be the first one to reach out with offers of a hot cup of coffee, a couple of hours of babysitting for a stressed out mom, or heavy duty labor to help an elderly person clear out their yard.
  43. Don’t wig out every time you hear a news report, especially on social media. If it doesn’t come directly from an official channel, then take a few deep breaths and wait until it’s verified.
  44. It will take a while for life to return to a new normal.
  45. If you have skills in administration and logistics, put them to work! One neighborhood can set up their own volunteer check-in desk at the entrance to their subdivision! As volunteers arrive, they are directed to specific homes in need of help. To do this, you’ll need neighborhood maps, roving volunteers with walkie-talkies to assess damage and report to the control center, and, of course, food and water is appreciated. This is a brilliant example of micro-emergency response.