GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico — 4 months after a devastating storm swept by way of Puerto Rico, folks right here say they need Trump to inform the reality about their scenario when he addresses Congress Tuesday night time — however they don’t have excessive hopes.
Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, decimating the island’s already fragile infrastructure and leaving folks with out water, electrical energy, and cellphone service. Trump visited the island almost two weeks after the storm hit, making stops in San Juan and in a single neighborhood of Guaynabo, the place he visited residents in part of city that suffered little injury.
“Flashlights, you don’t want ’em anymore. You don’t want ’em anymore,” he informed residents of Muñoz Rivera throughout his go to to the neighborhood, whereas handing the flashlights out at a church. In November —the final time the president instantly addressed the continued catastrophe in Puerto Rico— he stated that the island is “doing effectively.”
“It is therapeutic, and it is getting higher, and we’re getting them energy, and the entire issues that they should have,” he stated throughout a speech on tax reform.
On Monday, within the lead-up to the State of the Union, residents of Guaynabo, many who’re nonetheless struggling to get well from Maria’s devastation, stated they don’t have a lot hope that Trump will discuss actually in regards to the catastrophe throughout his handle.
“I don’t have a lot to say to him as a result of he doesn’t hear, you already know. He already has issues mapped out and Puerto Rico definitely doesn’t have any consideration in that plan,” stated Victor Acevedo, 33, who lives Sector Amelia, one in all 172 neighborhoods in Guaynobo which might be nonetheless with out energy, in accordance with the Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority. As of Monday, about 31% of the island had not regained electrical energy.
“He’s fascinated by a wall, a border whereas all of that is taking place right here. I don’t have excessive hopes for what he’s going to say tomorrow,” Acevedo stated. “We’re not a state, we’re a colony, and that impacts us a lot.”
Dwelling by way of the final 4 months with out energy has been laborious on him and his two kids, Acevedo stated. He works in constructing upkeep and doesn’t make sufficient to purchase gasoline for a generator so at night time, they shuttle between their residence and his mother-in-law’s home, the place there’s electrical energy.
The difficulty of Puerto Rico’s statehood got here up incessantly Monday when BuzzFeed Information requested folks right here in regards to the State of the Union. Puerto Rico is a US territory, with three.four million residents who’re Americans however who can not vote for the president and should not have voting representatives in Congress.
Earlier this month, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello despatched a delegation to Washington, DC, to make the case for statehood, which he argues would put the island on equal footing when it comes to illustration and entry to funding reminiscent of Medicaid.
One in every of Acevedo’s neighbors, Jose Maldonado Rodriguez, 50, stated he doesn’t anticipate that Trump will speak about Puerto Rico in Tuesday’s speech, as a result of the president hasn’t seen the true scale of the destruction on the bottom. He famous that Trump visited
“We have now the identical rights as different Individuals,” stated Rodriguez, who lives in Sector Amelia along with his 82-year-old mom, Virginia Rodriguez Rivas. “The place is deteriorating, there are folks struggling.”
Noting that Trump visited one of many least impacted neighborhood’s of Guaynobo throughout his October journey, Rodriguez added, “He didn’t come right here, he went to that half the place nothing occurred. They took him straight there. It didn’t give him a way of the place or of the catastrophe right here.”
A couple of streets over, Manuel Candelario, 25, simply regained energy final week. He stated he would really like Trump to handle the scenario in Puerto Rico however doesn’t assume he’ll.
“I feel we’re virtually a part of America however we’re type of not,” he stated.
Others stated that after listening to Trump’s feedback in October, they don’t anticipate a change of tone.
“Perhaps he’ll shock us there however I don’t assume so. There was some hope earlier than he got here, however after he got here and stated what he was going to say, folks realized the way it was with him, and it was horrible,” stated 75-year-old Jose Castillo Lopez, who lives in Santa Rosa, one other neighborhood in Guaynabo that is nonetheless with out electrical energy.
Lopez stated he’s been utilizing batteries to energy a light-weight in his residence for the previous 4 months.
“No person takes duty and it’s the individuals who endure, the poor folks,” he stated. “However we have to simply elevate ourselves up, with the household, and assist one another, and be united.”
Just a little additional alongside the street from Lopez’s home, 23-year-old Manuel Hernandez stood at his entrance gate. Towering over him in his entrance garden stands an electrical energy tower. The tower has been powered up since simply after the hurricane, he informed BuzzFeed Information, to offer electrical energy to a close-by water pump station. A lightweight on the foot of the tower activates at night time. However his residence, about 10 toes away, nonetheless doesn’t have energy.
“He doesn’t know something about what’s taking place right here,” Hernandez stated, when requested if he wished Trump to handle the disaster in Puerto Rico Tuesday. “I don’t anticipate something, no less than nothing good. I don’t even know what’s going by way of his head however I think about that every one that pursuits him is earning profits so Puerto Rico doesn’t come into consideration.”
In Camino del Monte — one more Guaynobo neighborhood with out electrical energy — 18-year-old Leonardo Gonzalez stated he’d like Trump to handle the disaster frankly, if he addresses all of it.
“He didn’t come right here. It’s not true that issues have gone effectively, that’s simply what he says in entrance of the press, for appearances,” he stated. “If he’s going to say something in his speech he ought to inform the reality. We’re all working and making an attempt to outlive in these circumstances. I would really like him to cease speaking about issues the best way he sees them, and to speak about them the best way they are surely as an alternative.”