There was a time I lived on an island that only had power from 10 am to 10 pm. The rest of the time, you had to get creative. I’ve never been through a hurricane like the people of Puerto Rico, but I do understand island life and problems.
The island I was on had one veterinarian, who was perpetually drunk and driving off the road. It had one doctor and no hospital. Once every week a ship brought things to the place like gas and mail, but only if the weather was good. If it was bad, you could go a month without goods or the ability to get off the island unless you wanted to sail to the mainland yourself.
Island people are generally pretty good at helping themselves. But I do want to encourage people that are out there, who may not have been living ruggedly beforehand, that there are ways you can help yourself (while help takes it’s sweet time to reach you) and you need to take them.
I’m pretty take charge in bad situations. I find the response of the Gov of PR unbelievable. He actually said on live tv that aid could not go to people because all the truck drivers were cleaning up their own homes. Really?
I would have declared martial law on day one and ordered everyone that held a truck class to licence to report to start moving aid. I would have held all gasoline for use by road clearance crews, aid carrying truckers, nursing homes and hospitals, and emergency services like police and fire, and finally communications workers who are trying to get cell towers back up.
I have really short shrift for people who are all about themselves. Communities with a lot of damage need to figure out if they have any habitable structures. The ones that need repair first are the ones that house the most people or are the easiest to repair because they have minor repair issues (so you have to take in your neighbors, and their kids, and their pets).
That means mayors need to look at large structures that survived the hurricane. Structures such as churches, schools, city halls, and hotels to be repaired first and used for housing. When you have 2,600 people in your community without housing, people repairing individual homes is not good sense. If there are limited repair items, limited lumber, plywood, roofing, hammers, etc, using such goods to fix one a house for one family instead of a school that can house 300 is just ridiculous.
Housing and warmth is a priority. You need to scour around for every usable thing and gather it all together so you know what you have. Gather up those broken trees and get them under a tarp drying out. That wood is going to be handy for heating your food, boiling your water and keeping you warm.
You can make clean water with a plastic bottle, some gravel and some sand. It’s pretty easy if you know how to do it. You need to establish a washing place and a bathing place for your community so no bad stuff gets into your water supply. You need to think how you’re going to get all the people through the next few months till substantial aid and repairs can take place.
Coral those chickens and goats, because they’ll give you eggs and milk for very little trouble. Get out on the sea and fish if you have row boat, kayak, or sail boat. If there are any gardens or farms, you need to get those back in order. You need to check your food supply. Make sure these will sustain you.
If there’s a power boat that floats but is not operational as a boat, it can be used as a relay signal point. You can probably get information out that way. Most ships have satellite radios, if you can get them working off a battery. If not, take the battery and drain the fuel out of the engines of useless boats.
You need to find a clean water source and keep it that way. You need pit latrines if the sewage lines are out. You need graves if there are dead things that need burying.If you have to shovel your main road clear, you all need to do it. You need to establish a dump, for anything that doesn’t compost.
Whatever you got, you use it to help your community.
Everyone with horse or some bullocks should be transporting goods for their community, dragging debris away, and clearing roads. If you have to transport sick people in wagons, sledges, and on travois, you do that. Even a large dog can pull a wagon or travois if need be.
I do want to add that the airlines and ship lines and military have really dropped the ball.
Sending commercial planes out with empty seats because your airline’s computer is down at the take-off point is stupid. Send your planes out full and then let the passengers be vetted by the airport when they arrive at. Presumably your computers work there. If something is wrong with their ticket at that point, have security hold them.
At this point every plane should be leaving PR full if there are people that want to get out and there should be military troop ships and troop planes getting people out if they want to leave. And there should be shelters on the mainland of the US ready to take those people in and help them find accommodation and relatives.
The cruise ships lines should also be helping out. It’s not like anyone is booking cruises to the Caribbean now. So why not take some of those unused ships out and park them around the island as floating nursing homes, aid stations, and soup kitchens? It’s really the least these shipping lines can do.
There are plenty of ruined cars in PR. But that doesn’t mean the batteries are bad, or that there isn’t gas you can get out of the tank. Or wiring you can pull and use. Or a radio you can pull out and use. You have to take what you can use. Even tires can be used for rebuilding homes.
People need to get back into walkie talkies, ham radio, crank up radios, signal corps transmitters like they had in WWII, signal flags and or using mirrors and such for morse code. If you need help, you have to get the word out. And on that note, where is GOOGLE when you need them? Geeze, Google, you want to try out Project Loon? Take your balloons to PR and get their internet back up. Because India can wait. PR can’t.
Frankly small solar panels all over Africa produce a bulb of light for people at night and keep a radio or tv, or even a cooking coil going. I mean you can do a lot with a single solar panel. Not to mention you can use a bicycle to recharge a battery when there is no sun. So, if your problem is lack of electricity, there’s a lot of ways to fix that without waiting for someone to show up at your door.
Most of this stuff could be airlifted into communities via helicopter. How hard is it to assign a chopper to drop an aid package with radio transmitters, solar panels, food and water and 1 tech to set it up and 1 medic to help the town, and then fly out critically injured people? Not hard. If you want to do it.
I really don’t know why critical aid is so delayed. I guess the Trump administration wants Puerto Rico to declare independence. It’s pretty clear the GOP doesn’t want to help, that they don’t see PR people as Americans. But I think it’s embarrassing.
The US is right there distributing aid and help to other countries around the globe, almost within hours of a disaster. But when one of its own territories is in need, and Trump is in charge, because they speak Spanish and have some debt, they’re ignored.
Yeah, and at a time when Trump and GOP opportunists are just fine with taking on 2.1 trillion in debt to give the ultra rich a tax break, they can’t lift a finger help Americans of color with some debt. That makes total sense.