Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
As Donald Trump waffles between cruelly threatening to pull aid from Puerto Rico and pathetically whining about criticism of his terrible relief efforts there, the island continues to deal with ongoing devastation. According to a FEMA report, nearly 40 percent of Puerto Ricans have no access to clean drinking water. The situation is so dire that some residents are attempting to get water from polluted, contaminated and toxic sources.
“There are reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste ‘Superfund’ sites in Puerto Rico,” the Environmental Protection Agency notes in a press release cited by Reuters. CBS News Correspondent David Begnaud tweeted an image of the report.
The EPA cites reports of Puerto Ricans “obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste “Superfund” sites” pic.twitter.com/UW4ZW7RBUG
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) October 11, 2017
On the ground, groups of volunteer veterans have taken to social media to get out the message about how poorly this administration is handling aid efforts. In a widely shared video posted Monday, a group of four veterans, including a man identified as former Staff Sergeant and Cavalry Scout Jason Maddy, describe the lack of supplies coming in.
“We have an urgent message to get out about what’s really going on here in Western Puerto Rico,” Maddy says into the camera. “Right now, we’re only giving out, to people in the mountains, one small meal and six bottles of water per family. That is all they’re getting.”
“And the meals are really just kind of a snack pack,” another veteran, Chris Davis, says. “We can’t figure out why supplies aren’t coming in from San Juan. The local government here is doing all that they can.”
“In this area, we’re really the only ones here — we’re 12 volunteer veterans,” Maddy adds. “And people are hurting really bad right now.”
1) This is a former Staff Sergeant and Calvary Scout. He is in Puerto Rico. He’s telling you the truth. FEMA and POTUS are lying to us. pic.twitter.com/G4u617KW2P
— Lucian (@LucianRandolph) October 9, 2017
Brock Long, the head of FEMA appointed by Trump in April, has helped elevate the president’s attacks against officials who have not been praiseful of the administration’s response. Pleas for help from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz have largely been met with insults from Trump, even as the grossly undercounted death toll rises and the situation remains bleak.
“We filtered out the mayor a long time ago,” Long said during a Sunday television appearance. “We don’t have time for the political noise.”
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.