In this 21 December 2017 photo, two year-old Yeinelis Oliveras González accompanies her father, Luis Oliveras, while eating dinner, in Morovis, Puerto Rico. The light blue glow cast by a tarp that covers half their roof, a donation from a church, has already dissipated. The other half of the roof is recycled zinc pieces that Jose Luis Gonzalez pieced together for them. FEMA has not given them any assistance. Photo: Carlos Giusti/AP Photo

By Danny Vinik
27 March 2018

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Politico) – As Hurricane Maria unleashed its fury on Puerto Rico in mid-September, knocking out the island’s electrical system and damaging hundreds of thousands of homes, disaster recovery experts expected that only one man could handle the enormity of the task ahead: Mike Byrne.

But Byrne, a widely acknowledged star of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, remained in Houston, which had been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey less than a month earlier.

Today, disaster recovery experts still express shock that FEMA kept Byrne in an already-stabilizing Texas and didn’t send him to Puerto Rico for three more weeks. But now, the decision strikes many as emblematic of a double standard within the Trump administration. A POLITICO review of public documents, newly obtained FEMA records and interviews with more than 50 people involved with disaster response indicates that the Trump administration — and the president himself — responded far more aggressively to Texas than to Puerto Rico.

“We have the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. We go anywhere, anytime we want in the world,” bemoaned retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led the military’s relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. “And [in Puerto Rico] we didn’t use those assets the way they should have been used.”

No two hurricanes are alike, and Harvey and Maria were vastly different storms that struck areas with vastly different financial, geographic and political situations. But a comparison of government statistics relating to the two recovery efforts strongly supports the views of disaster-recovery experts that FEMA and the Trump administration exerted a faster, and initially greater, effort in Texas, even though the damage in Puerto Rico exceeded that in Houston.

Within six days of Hurricane Harvey, U.S. Northern Command had deployed 73 helicopters over Houston, which are critical for saving victims and delivering emergency supplies. It took at least three weeks after Maria before it had more than 70 helicopters flying above Puerto Rico.

Nine days after the respective hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus just $6.2 million for Maria victims.

During the first nine days after Harvey, FEMA provided 5.1 million meals, 4.5 million liters of water and over 20,000 tarps to Houston; but in the same period, it delivered just 1.6 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water and roughly 5,000 tarps to Puerto Rico.

Nine days after Harvey, the federal government had 30,000 personnel in the Houston region, compared with 10,000 at the same point after Maria.

President Donald Trump throws a paper towel roll into the crowd as he visits the Cavalry Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on 3 October 2017. To many Puerto Rican residents, that image — Trump’s arms arched as if shooting a three-pointer — illustrated the president’s cavalier attitude towards the island. Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

It took just 10 days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster work for Texas, compared with 43 days for Puerto Rico.

Seventy-eight days after each hurricane, FEMA had approved 39 percent of federal applications for relief from victims of Harvey, versus 28 percent for Maria.

Those imbalances track with another one: the attention of President Donald Trump. In public, Trump appeared much more concerned with the victims of Harvey than Maria. He visited Houston twice during the first eight days after the hurricane, but didn’t visit Puerto Rico for 13 days. In the first week after the disasters, Trump sent three times as many tweets about Harvey as Maria — 24 about the plight of Texas and eight about Puerto Rico, including a series of comments about Puerto Rico’s debt level and quality of infrastructure that local officials considered insulting and enraging while lives were still in jeopardy. [more]

How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico

1 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    The last time there were record lows in these cities.

    Austin, TX - 1940
    Indianapolis, IN - 1957
    Fort Worth, TX - 1957
    Charlotte, NC - 1940
    Washington, DC -1874
    Boston, MA - 1874
    Nashville, TN - 1950
    Oklahoma City, OK -1957
    Las Vegas, NV -1967
    Baltimore, MD - 1940
    Louisville, KY - 1920
    Milwaukee, WI - 1962
    Albuquerque, NM - 1912
    Tucson, AZ - 1912
    Fresno, CA - 1911
    Sacramento, CA - 1945
    Kansas City, KS - 1950
    Mesa, AZ - 1953
    Atlanta, GA - 1940
    Omaha, NE -1881
    Miami, FL - 1956
    Minneapolis, MN -1962  

 

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