The mayor of San Juan, the capital and largest city, responded to a Trump cabinet official who said that the US response to the devastation after Hurricane Maria has been a “good news story”.
Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke said she was “very satisfied” with progress and said it has been “a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people”.
However, the mayor of San Juan said: “Damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a people are dying story.”
Millions of people living in the area are still in urgent need of aid because of the hurricane’s devastating impact on the island.
At least 16 people in Puerto Rico have died due to the category 5 hurricane and there are millions without cellular communications, medicine, food, or clean water.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told CNN: “Well maybe from where she’s [Elaine Duke] standing it’s a good news story,”
“When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story.”
Mrs Duke told reporters: “Clearly the situation here in Puerto Rico after the devastating hurricane is not satisfactory.”
“But together we are getting there and the progress today is very, very strong,” she added.
Health risks associated with lack of access to clean water
Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the special pathogens unit of the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories at Boston University, told Wired about the potential health risks associated with the aftermath of the hurricane.
“The first impact is people who were directly injured,” she said.
Adding, “Then you have an entire group of people who are critically ill, facing health care systems that are overwhelmed.”
In an article titled “Could recent hurricanes cause reemergence of cholera in Puerto Rico?” Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University, outlined the risks of cholera reemerging in Puerto Rico.
A 1989 study found Vibrio cholerae bacteria in the Mameyes River, a tropical rain forest watershed on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico.
“These factors – the presence of the V. cholerae bacterium, poverty, collapsed infrastructure and lack of potable water access – create a toxic mix that could promote cholera outbreaks in Puerto Rico during the coming days and weeks,” Dr. Peter Hotez said.