The paucity of coverage and attention paid to Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, as noted in the Sept. 22 editorial "Don't forget Puerto Rico," demonstrates a concerning lack of compassion for our fellow citizens. Even more appalling is the near-total news blackout on the destruction experienced by our fellow Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The editorial would have done well to remind us of our duty to aid the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico.
I am a former executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and I have met Kenneth Mapp (I), governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Michelle Davis, the island's secretary of health. Both are capable of the near-impossible. But we must assist them in restoring basic necessities, such as hospital care, electricity, clean water and food — just as we would for our fellow citizens on the mainland.
Storms end after days, but the recovery and rebuilding of basic necessities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could take months to years.
Paul Jarris, Springfield
Before Hurricane Maria, the gross national product of Puerto Rico had declined 15 percent, as had its population, thanks to the ongoing recession that hit Puerto Rico in 2006. This translates into a dramatic reduction in economic activity in the already cash-strapped territory.
Fifty-eight percent of Puerto Rican children live in poverty.
Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico, which now looks like a war zone. Those with the least will suffer the most.
Let us stand with determination and a resolute will to rebuild. Let the rest of the United States show Puerto Rico our devotion and determination in this great time of need. Let this point be the bottom from which we will build up.
Paul Weiss, Washington
The writer was chief of staff
to then-Resident Commissioner
Anibal Acevedo-Vilá from 2001 to 2005.
Puerto Rico's electric utility is bankrupt, has obsolete power plants despite extraordinarily high rates, and now has thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines to repair or replace because of Hurricane Maria ["Hurricane Maria deals heavy hit to Puerto Rico's bankrupt electric utility," news, Sept. 21].
This crisis offers a unique opportunity for the federal government to fund and private industry to build a 1-million-customer renewable (solar and wind) energy system with distributed energy generation and storm-hardened microgrids for the "mountainous and heavily forested areas difficult to access by truck." Such a project also could prove the feasibility of mass energy storage. Any fossil-fueled power plants that weren't destroyed by Maria could provide backup power for the occasional cloudy and wind-free day.
The Puerto Rican economy would benefit in the short run from the influx of construction jobs and in the long run from a reliable and efficient electric system. The continental U.S. companies that provided the solar- and wind-power equipment and labor to install it would benefit from the contracts' financial stimulus as well as the success of such a huge demonstration project. The people of the world would benefit from the environmental impact of Puerto Rico no longer burning so much fossil fuel. The only loser would appear to be Big Oil, which could be expected to lobby against the United States seizing this great opportunity.
Charles M. Carron, Alexandria