Puerto Rico in need of restoration funds at an unprecedented scale

In this Oct. 12, 2017 file photo, Midiam Rivera cries as she and a Housing Ministry official survey her home that was destroyed in the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Rivera, a mother of three, lost all her possessions when the devastating storm hit on Sept. 20. Rivera was offered help by the government to repair her home. Associated Press

By Christina Soto | Broadcast Reporter

It has been seven weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and more than half of the island is still without power. Puerto Rico officials said it could be weeks or months before the power is completely restored throughout the island.

According to the Weather Channel, 867,000 homes and businesses have no electricity. Thousands have left the island and migrated to the mainland because of the storm.

The executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico, Natalie Jaresko told Congress that Puerto Rico needs emergency and restoration funds.

“The island now needs help — emergency and restoration funds and assistance on an unprecedented scale,” Jaresko said. “Before the hurricanes, the board was determined that Puerto Rico and its instrumentalities could achieve balanced budgets, work its way through its debt problems, and develop a sustainable economy without federal aid. That is simply no longer possible.”

Puerto Rican authorities have estimated that the damage to the island can cost anywhere from $45 billion to $95 billion. Congress has only approved around 5 billion dollars in aid.

Former U.S. Presidents BarackObama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. H. Bush, and Jimmy Carter have established One America Appeal in order to aid in the hurricane recovery encompassing the devastations of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

CEO of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, David Jones said, “With damage estimates from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria topping $300 billion and requiring months and years of rebuilding ahead, we hope this strong start to the One America Appeal is just that –– a start.”

So far, One American Appeal has raised $31 million in tax-deductible, private funds from more than 80,000 donors. On Oct. 21, it hosted “Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal” concert in College Station. All ticket sales went directly to the hurricane relief fund. The organization is continually accepting donations through OneAmericaAppeal.org.

There are several other organization that are aiding in hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. Habitat for Humanity, according to its website is helping people repair and rebuild their homes. UNICEF is collecting $28 donations that will provide a kit of the basic essentials. According to their website, “A donation of just $28 will provide a kit containing basic, essential supplies such as water purification tablets, a water bucket with lid, water containers, soap, toothpaste, detergent and sanitary pads.”

Although there are several efforts to help Puerto Rico, the amount of damage is extensive and will take a significant amount of time to recover.

Ponce Puerto Rico senior Ian Cummings is from a city in the southern part of the island and is one of the largest cities in Puerto Rico. His family endured Hurricane Maria with damage only to their backyard, however, they have been out of power since the storm and have been surviving off the generator.

“My family was lucky enough to be not be affected that terribly compared to others in Puerto Rico,” Cummings said. “My house was fine, a couple of trees fell in the backyard. We have water in my house but they are still with no power and are surviving on the generator.”

Cummings said it was very hard to be so far from home, especially after the storm. However, he said he is thankful because his family was very fortunate.

“It’s hard, especially when you are this far away, right after it happened I didn’t talk to my parents for almost two weeks, it was kind of crazy and I was very anxious,” Cummings said. “I know they are okay now though and it could have been a lot of worse.”

Because of the storm devastation on the island, he will not be returning to Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving. His family said it would be best for him to stay in Texas.

“There are not enough flights in and out of the island right now and my parents told me that being there would not be good for me cause everything is so bad and it doesn’t make sense for me to go so I will go to a friends house,” Cummings said.