2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39

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Posted on 30 September 2017 by John Hartz

Editor’s Pick

People Are Dying’: Puerto Rico Faces Daunting Humanitarian Crisis

As the full scope of Hurricane Maria’s devastation emerges, leaders are calling for urgent help. Many of the risks were spelled out in a 2013 climate assessment.

Puerto Rico Aftermath of Hurricane Maria 

Hurricane Maria swept mud and debris down streets and into homes across the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, home to 3.4 million people, about 44 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

A public health crisis is unfolding in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, as millions of people face a frightening array of urgent dangers, some of which may drag on for weeks or months.

Nearly one week after the storm hit, federal emergency response personnel struggled to make contact with remote communities and restore critical medical infrastructure.

As of Monday, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), already stretched thin by continuing recovery efforts from Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida, had yet to reach six communities in Puerto Rico and was just sending its first shipment of water to the remote islands of Vieques and Culebra.

“We are in response mode, and our main priority is saving lives, getting generators to the hospitals, and making sure that there is enough fuel for those generators to run,” FEMA spokesperson Jose Davila said.

“It is very bad down there right now,” said Sven Rodenbeck, chief science officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 hurricane response. “For the vast majority of the island, there is no power. They have had flooding, and the health care system—many of the clinics and hospitals are closed. A lot of the drinking water systems are not operational, along with the waste water systems.”

Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, gave a blunt assessment of the situation.

“People are dying,” Cruz told CBS news on Tuesday. “This is the reality that we live in, the crude aftermath of a storm, a hurricane that has left us practically paralyzed.”

‘People Are Dying’: Puerto Rico Faces Daunting Humanitarian Crisis by Phil Mckenna, Inside Climate News, Sep 27, 2017


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