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Puerto Rico Is Still Reeling from Hurricane Maria and Needs Help Now

Puerto Rico National Guard / Flickr

One week after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, the island still remains in dire need of assistance.

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The category four storm ripped directly through the US territory, bringing with it torrential rain, winds up to 155 MPH, massive storm surges, and flooding. The ensuing destruction was so devastating officials went as far as to call the storm’s aftermath “apocalyptic.”

Read More: Category 5 Hurricane Maria Just Devastated the Tiny Island of Dominica and Is Heading Toward Puerto Rico

The island’s 3.4 million residents are now reeling to assess the damage to their homes and cities. It has been estimated by the catastrophe-modeling firm AIR Worldwide that the storm caused between $40-$85 billion in damages to property and infrastructure.

The Defense Department reported that as of Tuesday, 44% of residents lack access to clean drinking water. Food and fuel are also scarce according to a Vox report.

Puerto Rico is facing a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

These issues have been compounded by the fact that transportation, communications, and electricity infrastructure were essentially wiped away.

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Still, aid is slowly but surely trickling into the island. Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló made a point Wednesday to reassure residents that the federal government was taking immediate measures to assist the island.

"We are getting help from the federal government, but this is an unprecedented set of circumstances," Rosselló said on Wednesday. "We want to make sure that we recognize that a lot of resources are coming in. They are coming in by air or by boats. But they are starting to execute."

However, many believe the government’s response to the crisis has been insufficient, and too slow, especially when compared to recent efforts to hurricane aftermath in Texas and Florida.

In response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, 31,000 federal personnel were sent to Texas and 40,000 were sent to Florida within days of the events, according to CNN.

So far, only 10,000 personnel have been sent to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, as stated in a tweet from FEMA.

Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico next week. In a news conference Tuesday Trump defended the administration's handling of the crisis, attributing the apparent disparity in relief efforts to the fact that Puerto Rico is an island.

"This is a thing called the Atlantic ocean, this is tough stuff," he remarked.

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In the private sector, several celebrities have stepped up to contribute to relief efforts. The Puerto Rican rapper Pitbull sent his private jet to the island in order to transport cancer patients to the US mainland for chemotherapy treatments.

Similarly, the Dallas Mavericks’ head coach and multi-millionaire Mark Cuban donated his private plane to point-guard J.J. Barea in order to fly supplies to Puerto Rico.

Barea started a fundraising effort on crowdfunding site YouCaring. It has received over $127,000 from more than 1,000 donors since it began on September 20.

Superstar singer Jennifer Lopez donated $1 million to relief efforts, and has been fundraising for the aid organization United for Puerto Rico ever since.

For Global Citizens interested in donating to victims of Hurricane Maria, check out the article below with links to several charities working to provide aid in Puerto Rico.

Read More: In the Wake of Hurricane Maria, Here’s How to Help People in Puerto Rico

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, one of which is access to clean water and sanitation. To take action for the millions of people lacking access to these basic resources and more in the wake of recent extreme weather events, click here.