Puerto Rico has been basically returned to the 18th century by Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria delivered a destructive full-body blow to this U.S. territory on Wednesday, ripping off metal roofs, generating terrifying and potentially lethal flash floods, knocking out 100 percent of the island’s electrical grid and decimating some communities.
With sustained winds of 155 mph at landfall — a strong Category 4 storm and nearly a Category 5 — Maria was so powerful that it disabled radar, weather stations and cell towers across Puerto Rico, leaving an information vacuum in which officials could only speculate about property damage, injuries or deaths.
“Definitely Puerto Rico — when we can get outside — we will find our island destroyed,” Abner Gómez, director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, said in a midday news conference here. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its path.”
The island was already suffering under financial difficulty, and now this. The worst part is that no one here — or there — knows the extent of the damage because there’s no way to communicate with anyone other than via battery-operated satellite phones.
Add to that, Puerto Rico has been treated as a stepchild by Congress, and so far the Trump administration has barely acknowledged its existence as a U.S. territory.
Right now might not be the time to bring this up, but in the future this destruction and its recovery should be a factor in determining the statehood question — which I strongly favor — if only because the residents will be able to vote for president and that might be the shiny object that garners attention from politicians in Washington.