"This disaster is caused by neglect by the federal government," [American Federation of Teachers] union president Randi Weingarten told Newsweek. "That's why this is such a tragedy. For President Trump to say they're safe is cruel and an abstention of responsibility."
What is the human toll?
An elderly woman in Puerto Rico is helpless as her husband's body becomes a patchwork of ulcers and sores from Parkinson's disease. Another woman risks respiratory disease from a mold-infested bedroom and destroyed roof. “A man is dying of renal failure while he couldn’t get to his dialysis,” [registered nurse from Oregon] Misty Richards said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been stretched by multiple natural disasters and is struggling to supply necessary workers, as well as meet the enormous need for supplies and financial assistance.
Water bottles are guarded by FEMA officials and local police to prevent raiding. Officials distribute five bottles of water per person each week to ration the resources. The nurses in Puerto Rico are collecting donations to buy food and water to deliver to rural communities without access to the city. They know five water bottles won't be enough in the humid climate as Puerto Ricans struggle to clear roads and rebuild.
Volunteers do not fault FEMA workers for the inadequate response but do fear that conditions will worsen before they get better.
There is not enough of them [FEMA workers], and they can only do so much,” Richards said. “I’m sure this is just breaking their hearts. You can’t look in the face of these people and not have compassion, but they’re being kept on a very short leash.”