August 20, 2018

US: Terrible response on Caribbean disaster


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By Thomas Gans letter to Napa Valley Register

I am distressed to the point of righteous rage over our American government’s despicable response to the devastation of Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

, after a bit of hesitation, rushed military, civilian, and help to Texas and Florida, but what has happened after the two hurricanes virtually destroyed St. Johns, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Vieques, and Puerto Rico is quite a different story.

After the hurricanes passed, President Trump spent his whole weekend ranting at NFL players over a few of them demonstrating their concerns about police killings of black citizens silently during the national anthem and engaging in a very dangerous exchange of insults and nuclear threats with the leader of North Korea.

He did nothing to bring relief to the American citizens in our territories, over 3 million of whom were without food, potable water, and electric power.

This disaster called for an immediate, all-out relief effort. What did we get? We got FEMA telling the mayor of to write them memos outlining her city’s needs and they would get back to her.

We got disaster relief teams waiting at the San Juan airport for orders as to what to do.

Meanwhile, the hospital ship USNS Comfort was sitting idle in Norfolk, Virginia, doing nothing to help.

Only after former Secretary Clinton pointedly called for it, did the Comfort get orders to get underway, which she will do after another four days’ delay and five more days en route. The Comfort should have received orders before the hurricane struck, with instructions to be underway as soon as the storm was safely clear of her route.

Further, every available helicopter landing ship, of which we have about a dozen, should have been dispatched to conduct rescue and relief operations.

This travesty is happening because our president, Donald Trump, doesn’t care about our Caribbean citizens; they didn’t vote for him. (Actually, they couldn’t; they don’t get to vote for president.) He has only taken notice of the disaster once the bad publicity for his inaction started, but so far we have only meaningless words.

There is still a complete lack of organization in the present government relief effort. It’s a complete repeat of the fiasco with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Trump’s and FEMA’s incompetence is not going to be wiped away by Trump braying, “Heck of a job, Brock.”

Thomas Gans

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