A Call For All True Americans to Stand With Puerto Rico in Their Hour of Need

When I began writing this blog, it was in the hope that human beings would stand united to face the dire threat that is climate change. I also feared that events such as those that have recently occurred in the Atlantic would begin to rise to ferocious intensity.

Puerto Rico did not deserve the terrible blow she received on September 20th. A small island territory, she did very little to contribute to the warming oceans and atmosphere that made Maria worse. That considerably increased the devastation that was inflicted that engorged the risk to the now 3.4 million Americans who are, tonight, rendered refugees.

It does not have to be this way. Though we cannot control the force of a hurricane, we can determine the resolve of our response. We can aim our efforts at helping those who have been thrust into sweltering 100 degree heat indexes without power, air conditioning, water, and in many cases food. We can provide the leadership, as a country united in the face of adversity, that the person who presently and unjustly claims the office of President so glaringly lacks.

This is the time when we all need to pull together for the people of Puerto Rico who are also the people of this great country. To show, as Elon Musk did today, the true nature of our charity and compassion for one another. To show that we resolve ourselves to leave no American behind in the face of rising climate disasters. That we will respond with heart and justice — not with cynicism or an eye toward gaining personal power by dividing America. By responding for Texas and Florida — but not for Puerto Rico.

This is a general call to all who listen and hear these words to act in any way that you can. Though the storm is now over we risk the loss of thousands, a mass exodus of the destitute, and the surrender of a portion of America to the great and dark abyss. In the absence of Presidential leadership we must each now become a leader and take responsibility for our fellows. It is only in this way — together, indivisible — that we can successfully navigate the time of troubles ahead.

Leave a comment


  1. Croatan Sierra Club

     /  September 28, 2017

    People need to remember that in time all of us, and our children, will face unimaginable problems, and will need the help of our fellow humans. Thanks Robert, for so much information over the last few years. I spread your blogs around.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Anne

     /  September 28, 2017

    In what way can we act best to help those in urgent need?

    • Open forum here. Will be encouraging all to provide links and information for legitimate aid organizations and efforts.

      Richard Reiss provides a few below.

      • eleggua

         /  September 29, 2017

        Thanks so much for this post, Robert. Many good options that will directly benefit rather than uncertain RedCross.

  3. aalasti

     /  September 28, 2017

    I certainly enturely agree with your statement, and have tweeted it. Did you intend for the page to feature the “Ocean Eyes” video, though, or is that an ad?


  4. Some vetted options:


    Specifically for resilient power systems, a way to get areas back on their feet and remain on site as microgrids:

    • Thank you for the links, Richard. Warmest regards to you.

    • wpNSAlito

       /  September 29, 2017

      As I learned when my New Orleans family recovered from Katrina: Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

      While there’s urgent need for money now, I’d like to recommend establishing a small monthly donation to help keep the effort long after the media has withdrawn its focus.

    • I´ve just checked Shelterbox (mentioned several times by Colorado Bob, and Kassy remembered me of it in the last post). While they aren´t helping Puerto Rico right now (I don´t known why, but hopefully it will be because of that dreaded Jones Act that seems to have been waived now and they´ll begin to aid Puerto Rico too), they are helping several of the other caribbean islands hit by Maria and Irma:

  5. eleggua

     /  September 29, 2017

    Direct action in the spirit of Roberto Clemente.

    This one’s put together by former NY Yankee catcher Jorge Posada and his wife, Laura.
    Jorge’s a good guy; this one’s worthy.


    The Island of Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria. The damage left behind is catastrophic, and we need your help to rebuild it. We hope that you can join us with a donation to help the community get back up and come back stronger than ever before. Anything that you can donate will make a big difference. Boricuas this is the time to show your love for Puerto Rico and show the world how much we love our brothers and sisters in the Island of Enchantment. Yo soy Boricua Pa’que tu lo sepas!

    Posted on September 25, 2017

    We have eyes on the ground in Puerto Rico. We are taking a close look at the damage first hand. This will help us create the right plan so we utilize the funds in the best manner. Once again, thank you!

    • eleggua

       /  September 29, 2017

      ‘Minnesota Twins: Players working to help hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico ‘
      Sep 26, 2017


      “(Kennys) Vargas (Minnesota Twins designate hitter) also is skeptical that the Twins and Cleveland Indians will be able to play a two-game series next April 17-18 at San Juan’s historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which suffered a great deal of damage in the storm as well.

      “It will be canceled, I think,” Vargas said. “I would say there won’t be baseball in Puerto Rico for one or two years. Not even winter ball. The stadium got destroyed. The community can’t worry about baseball now. It has to take care of everybody. They have to fix people’s lives first.”

    • eleggua

       /  September 29, 2017

      GoFundMe campaign from Yadier Molina, All-Star catcher with the St. Louis Cardinals, and his wife, Wanda.


    • eleggua

       /  September 29, 2017

      GoFundMe from Marly Rivera, ESPN reporter.


      “You can choose to donate to this fund, or to any of the other funds that have been set up. Many of the other islands in the Caribbean have been devastated, and could use your help.

      This cause is personal to me: My entire family lives in Puerto Rico. Please note this is a personal fundraising effort, unrelated to my employer, ESPN.

      A few Puerto Rican athletes have also started relief efforts, like Yadier Molina, Jorge Posada, JJ Barea, Kike Hernández, Javy Báez, Carlos Beltrán and Mónica Puig….

      From our end, we will collect the funds and seek advice from the Hispanic Federation as to what is the best way to deliver aid to Puerto Rico…”

    • eleggua

       /  September 29, 2017

      Mónica Puig, Olympic Gold Medal-winning tennis player.


      “I am heartbroken by the devastation that hurricane Maria has brought to my beloved Puerto Rico. I hereby ask anyone willing to help rebuild the island to donate via this fund. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico.”

  6. eleggua

     /  September 29, 2017

    Fundraiser by Carlos Beltran, Houston Astros DH and nine-time All-Star, and family.
    He’s personally donated $1,000,000.

    “We will be raising funds for the Fundacion Carlos Beltran so we can personally insure that all funds go where they will be needed the most to help when the water receeds….

    We are personally kicking the efforts off with a $1,000,000 donation.

    No good are services are provided in exchange for your contribution. Your donation is made to a 501c3 organization and is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. ”

    All of the ones posted above and created by professional athletes are tax deductible.

  7. eleggua

     /  September 29, 2017

    This one’s put together by Beatriz Rosselló, the wife of the Governor.


    “United for Puerto Rico is an initiative brought forth by the First lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María.”

  8. eleggua

     /  September 29, 2017

    No idea if any of the aid from any of the above or elsewhere is intended for Vieques.
    That tiny island is in great need, too.

    Article by Amy Gordon, a freelancer reporting for the Washington Post, who was there when Maria swept through.
    On Monday she flew from Vieques to San Juan via private aircraft, then onto Florida via a plane chartered by ViequesLove that returned to the mainland from San Juan after its private relief aid flight to Vieques. I’ll include the link to a GoFundMe effort by the ViequesLove group below this comment.

    ‘On Vieques, ‘primitive’ takes on a new meaning’


    “This small island seven miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico has been without running water, power, gasoline or communications for more than a week, leaving its 9,000 residents teetering on the edge of crisis and clamoring for help…..

    The island — a community best-known for its decades-long fight against the U.S. Navy, which operated a bombing range here — is faring like many other remote Puerto Rico locales that have not yet received external help: People are struggling to maintain any sense of normalcy, and they have little confidence anyone is coming to save them…..

    Before Hurricane Maria slammed the island, Vieques was verdant, a paradise retreat with pristine beaches, a large nature preserve, home to many U.S. mainland retirees.

    The landscape now is almost unrecognizable. Trees were uprooted, and those still standing are bare and offer no shade. Homes were destroyed. People are getting desperate….

    In the days since (leaving Puerto Rico), I have been constantly responding to posts from people in the United States and across the globe asking if their loved ones on Vieques are okay. With no direct communication between Vieques and the rest of the world, I am one of very few people that can offer any information about the people still trapped there. But I don’t know what has happened to them since I left.

    Vieques is a U.S. territory, the people who live there U.S. citizens. They are currently without electricity, running water, gasoline and any connection to the rest of the world. Any news that circulates is hearsay, rumor. Every time a plane or helicopter flies over, people look up to see if it’s military, news or private. At the end of last week, a radar plane was circling the island. We were petrified that it was tracking a new storm; we had no way to know what, if anything, was coming for us next….

    One word I often use — lovingly — to describe Vieques is “primitive.” We have no traffic lights, horses roam free and streets are identified by landmarks and lawn ornaments rather than names.

    We don’t have shopping malls or food delivery or other such creature comforts, but we choose to live that way, and we love it.

    The word primitive has taken on a new meaning, now. It’s having to siphon rainwater from the roof to flush your toilet. It’s carrying around a machete to cut through downed tree branches that obstruct your path. It’s having no way to know what is going on elsewhere in the world, or even on the other side of the island. It’s rationing drinking water. It’s trying to fall asleep in a dark, hot room and hoping that if an intruder tries to break in, you’ll remember how to use the spear gun your friend lent you, since you can’t call for help.

    I was lucky, extremely lucky, to get out.”

  9. eleggua

     /  September 29, 2017

    “This is a critical time of life and death. Vieques needs you.”

    ViequesLove GoFundMe fundraiser.
    If you aren’t familiar with GoFundMe, the campaign sets a goal amount, however monies raised (minus appx. 8% in site and financial transaction fees) go to the effort whether or not the goal is reached. GoFundMe bought CrowdRise in January of this year.

    Many GoFundMe users report problems receiving payments with regard to verification difficulties, and with GFM withholding payments for various reasons that are difficult for the campaigners to resolve. Many also lodge complaints regarding the fees, which eat into the actual amount raised.

    ViequesLove is a worthy cause and the creators are legit. Whether or not one chooses to support it via GoFundMe ought to depend on one’s faith or lack-thereof in GoFundMe, not in the legitimacy of ViequesLove.


    “100% of this fund will go to Vieques residents and Vieques non-profits in need.

    Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 Hurricane, tore across the US territory of Vieques at speeds of 160 mph leaving our beautiful little island with catastrophic damage. Our beautiful, picturesque Malecón has been destroyed. Homes and livelyhoods have been lost. Reports are slowly coming in but it is too soon to know the extent of the damage. It is devasting and our hearts are breaking.

    This group was originally formed in order to provide long-term recovery funding for the Island, but because there has been an exremely limited government response in Vieques, ViequesLove has stepped in to fill the relief void. We are now servicing the full-scope of relief needs for Vieques until full-scale government aid can arrive.

    Working under the COREFI umbrella, a 501c3 organization based out of Puerto Rico, the group maintaining this fund has launched Operation 18 Degrees North, a relief effort designed to:

    – Get immediate communication supplies and satellite phones to key emergency relief personnel, the hospital, and the hurricane shelters.
    – Purchase and deploy critical life saving supplies to the island of Vieques.
    – Provide fast relief to the island of Vieques as new needs arise.

    To date, there is limited governmental support because of all of the other disasters that have happened recently, as well as damaged ports and runways hampering the ability to bring boats and planes in. We recognize that and the community is rallying together to bring the support that the island needs.

    Humanitarian organizations, people and non-profits on Vieques were struggling to survive even before the storm hit. This is a critical time of life and death. Vieques needs you. The struggle will continue long after the world forgets.”

    This fund was created by:
    Kelly Thompson, editor and publisher of Vieques Insider Magazine
    Szaritza Yamira, FEMA/HUD Disaster Relief Specialist
    Sharon Pepin, grant writer and administrator

    This fund is being maintained by:
    Kelly Thompson, editor and publisher of Vieques Insider Magazine
    Brittany Roush, Litigation Consultant and disaster relief coordinator for Vieques

    • eleggua

       /  September 29, 2017

      If you want to help Vieques and aren’t comfortable with GoFundMe, contact Kelly Thompson at Vieques Insider Magazine and inquire about other options. That suggestion is my own. I’ve no idea if Kelly Thompson would entertain any effort outside of GoFundMe or if GoFundMe’s charter restrict a simultaneous outside effort. I’ve had no contact with Kelly Thompson as yet and am only speaking for myself vis a vis that suggestion.


  10. wili

     /  September 29, 2017

    Thanks for the post, robert, and for the many other ideas by commenters.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the general situation continues to take certain crucial turns for the worse: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/28/alarm-as-study-reveals-worlds-tropical-forests-are-huge-carbon-emission-source

    Crucial carbon sinks are turning into sources. This represents a kind of compound feedback.

    • Combined impact of warming and deforestation. We were worried about this five years ago as various signs were starting to appear. Similar to the process that’s going on in the north. However the tropical carbon feedback appears to have arrived sooner due to clear cutting, slash and burn agriculture, various industries invading the rain forest, and islandization of rainforest habitats.

    • The “source not sink” response until now (and for what I read of the article, just the abstract as it´s paywalled) is still more linked to degradation and deforestation than to responses to the climate change happening, though the droughts are taking their toll… I may not have read this article fully, but every carbon-footprint scientific article that I´ve read about Amazon during drought always shows the same result: during drought years… 2005, 2010, 2016, 2017 the forest becomes a carbon source, losing biomass and ancient trees.

      The degradation and deforestation could and should be stopped, and I feel shame for my country of how bad our answer to this is being, for Dilma´s rural code and imploding IBAMA and Chicobio, for Temer´s reduction of Jamaxin and signaling “ruralistas” that they could have their way, for the attacks that ruralistas are doing right now to our environmental laws (our endangered species act, our environmental regulation laws and several of our nature reserves are under attack. Yes, americans, if that seems familiar… it´s not just Trump over there, the same class of idiots is spread around the world).

      Even with the droughts, well-preserved forest aren´t turning into carbon sinks. They´re resilient to the changes thus far (http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n11/full/nclimate3109.html ).

      Trouble is: well-preserved forests are rarer everyday. At least the extinction of Renca was stopped (Renca is a minerium reserve, not a nature reserve. But is in an area that right now, is pristine Rainforest, with no roads and just a few spots of trouble. Starting minerium exploitation in Renca, even if just in the non-nature-reserve areas would mean building roads on the area, and roads are the veins of deforestation, distributing environmental crime around.).

  11. Andy_in_SD

     /  September 29, 2017

    Thanks for trying to swing the conversation away from the NFL and who is uninvited to the White House, back to the people in need as this seems to be turning into a Katrina sequel, in all aspects.

    • Suzanne

       /  September 29, 2017


    • Thanks for the kind words, Andy. For me, I tend to think it’s better to ignore the distractions and focus on the real stuff.

      This particular series of events is not what we could call ‘cascading.’ But it certain is ‘multiple impact.’ It’s tougher to respond when you’ve got Houston, FL, Puerto Rico and multiple islands in the Caribbean all being hit hard at the same time. We’ve talked about this potential for years. Now we see it in real time. But this is nowhere near as bad as it could be. The U.S. is still capable of responding. If we’d had Irma go up the Chesapeake bay as a Cat 5/ strong 4, as some of the early models indicated, then we’d now be singing a completely different tune. U.S. response capability in such an event would have been greatly reduced. But the potential for that kind of hit is now present and growing more likely.

      And we haven’t really yet fully begun to see the new brands of storms that are possible if Greenland melt increases, AMOC takes a bigger hit, and you get large pools of hot and cold right next to each other in the North Atlantic.

  12. Shawn Redmond

     /  September 29, 2017

    PUERTO RICO HAS rejected a bondholder group’s offer to issue the territory additional debt as a response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Officials with Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority said the offer was “not viable” and would harm the island’s ability to recover from the storm.

    The PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) Bondholder Group made the offer on Wednesday, which included $1 billion in new loans, and a swap of $1 billion in existing bonds for another $850 million bond. These new bonds would have jumped to the front of the line for repayment, and between that increased value and interest payments after the first two years, the bondholders would have likely come out ahead on the deal, despite a nominal $150 million in debt relief.

    Indeed, the offer was worse in terms of debt relief than one the bondholder group made in April, well before hurricanes destroyed much of the island’s critical infrastructure.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  September 29, 2017

      Get rid of the Jones Act, that would be a massive economic boost to the US Territories

    • This looks like willful and cynical exploitation of Puerto Rico’s desperation.

      RE the Jones Act…

      For reference, the Act requires goods shipped between points in the United States to be carried by vessels built, owned and (mostly) operated by Americans. The act might have made some sense in the case where the U.S. merchant marine fleet was large and capable and delivered goods at competitive prices. However, in the present time, most goods are shipped by vessels flagged in other countries. As a result, goods shipped on the smaller U.S. merchant marine fleet are about twice as expensive as from the traditional global pool.

      The act disadvantages states like Hawaii and Alaska and territories like Guam and Puerto Rico who receive much of their supplies by shipping.

      Yesterday, at the recommendation of Mattis, the act was waived for 10 days in an effort to speed relief to Puerto Rico. In the larger sense, though, it’s a wonder that the act hasn’t been more fully debated considering the fact that the U.S. has had a dwindling merchant marine fleet for some time now. One that isn’t really very competitive on the global market and, arguably, can’t economically meet the needs of more isolated states and territories. Either effort and investment needs to be made to bolster the U.S. merchant marine and make it competitive (which may not be practical or possible) or this artifact of the early 20th century should probably go.

  13. Suzanne

     /  September 29, 2017

    At Reuters this morning…”Evacuees leave PR by cruise ship, some doubting they will return”

    Thousands of people lined up at San Juan harbor on Thursday to board a cruise ship that will take them from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland in one of the largest evacuations since Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico more than a week ago.

    U.S. aid to Puerto Rico seen topping $30 billion -congressional aide

    Maria, which came ashore as the strongest storm to hit the island in nearly 90 years, has created a humanitarian crisis. The powerful storm knocked out the nation’s electric grid and has crippled communications networks, transport and the water supply for the territory’s 3.4 million people.

    The devastation is likely to feed an exodus that has driven tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans from the economically struggling island in recent years in search of opportunity on the mainland.

    “I’m sorry to be leaving Puerto Rico, but I have to. I prefer home, but it’s impossible with these conditions,” said Ada Reyes, 85. She was in a wheelchair and traveling on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship bound for Florida with her granddaughter, Maria Fernanda, 19.

    • wili

       /  September 29, 2017

      Wow. I just finished watching the PBS Vietnam series, and that is somewhat reminiscent to me of the mass exodus from the south as it fell.

  14. Suzanne

     /  September 29, 2017

    At the Guardian this morning…”Nestle pays $200 a YEAR to bottle water near Flint, where the water is undrinkable”.
    The injustices just keep coming. This story…like so many these days..makes my blood boil.

  15. Suzanne

     /  September 29, 2017

    Americares.org gets 4/4 from Charity Navigator

    Americares: The nonprofit focused on medicine and health is seeking to provide emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and others.

  16. Suzanne

     /  September 29, 2017

    At VOX…”The General who turned around the response to Katrina…thinks we’re failing Puerto Rico”

    On Thursday, Honoré weighed in on NPR on the crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and the government’s response so far. According to Honoré, Puerto Rico is much worse off than New Orleans was: “Puerto Rico is a bigger and tougher mission than Katrina,” he told Rachel Martin on Morning Edition. “And we had 20,000 federal troops, 20 ships, and 40,000 National Guard.”

    But the Trump administration has not stepped up with the necessary support yet, which is reminiscent of the days following Katrina when people were crying for help and the government was hesitating to respond.

    “The force is only about 2,200 federal troops in support of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as of yesterday” — but it should be at least double that, he said, noting that the slow military response to the island is reminiscent of Katrina.

    • So many supports have been knocked out. This situation right now is more of a risk to life than even the initial effects of the hurricane. With so much infrastructure and shelter destroyed and damaged, the ability of society to function without far more considerable outside support than has been provided has been seriously compromised. At this stage, hesitation is tantamount to abandonment.

      • Suzanne

         /  September 29, 2017

        As someone who has been through a lot of hurricanes over the decades..it is the post-hurricane issues that turn out many times to be the most dangerous. Something most Americans and media don’t necessarily focus on. For instance…the amount of injuries and deaths related to post hurricane clean up is quite high. And I am not even talking about the death and destruction that comes with killers like Andrew, Katrina or Maria..which is just off the charts in post hurricane tragedy. Even a mild hurricane can have dangerous post hurricane consequences.

  17. Abel Adamski

     /  September 29, 2017


    Elon Musk: Tesla reaches halfway point of construction on ‘world’s biggest’ battery

    Tesla boss Elon Musk has held a party in South Australia’s mid-north to mark the halfway point of construction of the world’s most powerful lithium ion battery.
    Key points:

    Elon Musk made the announcement from a marquee overlooking the battery array in Jamestown
    SA Premier Jay Weatherill said the event was a celebration of how far the state has come, one year on from the statewide blackout
    The SA Government has set an operating deadline of December 1 for the battery

    A grid connection agreement for the 100-megawatt battery array was signed by transmission company Electranet on Friday afternoon, sparking the start of a 100-day deadline for Tesla to complete construction of the battery or build it for free.

    • So I’ve got to ask the question —

      Which company would be both capable and willing to produce a battery of this size under such generous conditions? In a year’s time, Tesla/Panasonic will be capable of undertaking multiple projects of this kind all at the same time. In large part, this is due to the synergy that comes with mass Model 3 production.

      Those who are short Tesla, are basically short the investment and innovation philosophy of business. They’ve over-focused on profitability and are failing to see production of value. Which large automaker is going to be capable of producing 150 gwh of batteries in the near future? If it’s not Tesla, it’s nobody.

  18. Abel Adamski

     /  September 29, 2017

    File under Ya gotta be joking

    Victoria, NSW to be penalised for outlawing fracking under Grants Commission plan
    States that fail to permit coal seam gas mining would be penalised under a fresh proposal from the Grants Commission to change the method of distributing goods and services tax revenue.
    The adjustment would hurt Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, each of whom has complete or partial bans on coal seam gas exploration or development or has a moratorium on fracking.
    The proposal, in a position paper prepared for the commission’s review of the principles behind the GST distribution, is to treat royalties from coal seam gas in the same way as taxes on gambling. It would apply from 2020.
    States that choose not to allow poker machines and collect poker machine revenue are regarded as having voluntarily forgone income and not compensated for earning less than the states that do.
    Also penalising States that ban or limit poker machines

    • It’s a draconian form of law that basically enforces harm. Form and function of the political manifestation of the resource curse. More attempts to capture consumption through regulatory dominance and remove the option of less harmful renewable energy. Those proponents of the political philosophy supporting this nonsense often whinge on about government supporting positive outcomes. They call it ‘picking winners and losers.’ But then they turn around and force government to support bad outcomes. In effect, picking the absolute worst winners imaginable. We call this the race to the bottom.

      • Brian

         /  September 29, 2017

        I’m actually sort of okay with this. Gently ween them off of the Resource Curse and incentivize them towards clean renewable energy by having known tax-sharing-reductions in the future. There will be growing pains for all of us, but the sooner, the better, and hopefully this should be ‘easy’ to swallow.

  19. As an aside, it’s problematic for the international community to provide aid to Puerto Rico for several reasons. The first and most basic is the political difficulty of diverting resources that could go to much poorer countries in crisis in order to provide help to the world’s wealthiest country with the world’s largest navy and military. This is particularly so when the U.S. is dragging its feet over helping its own citizens and not asking for assistance… consider the way Mexico’s (pre-earthquake) offer of assistance to the victims of Harvey was coldly ignored.

    The second is that any such offers of aid might will trigger a resentful political backlash from the incompetent but nationalistic Trump administration, always quick to see a slight or insult. Any perceived ‘meddling’ in U.S. domestic affairs, even in humanitarian issues, could carry a cost that foreign governments, international agencies and NGOs might hesitate to pay.

    A third is the (just-lifted) legal bar on foreign cargo or supply ships docking at Puerto Rican ports.

    This could easily dwarf the human cost of Katrina, in slightly slower motion. The U.S. had days of warning that Puerto Rico faced potential disaster… why were supplies not prepared in advance, and navy ships dispatched to the region in preparation? Trump is what he is, but cast the net wider: the Republican Party has learned nothing.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  September 29, 2017

      You can’t fix stupid

      • Syd Bridges

         /  September 29, 2017

        Abel, you can’t fix greed either.

        • Suzanne

           /  September 29, 2017

          +1 (Unless you have Dicken’s Ghost of Christmas past over for a visit? )

        • From the systemic standpoint greed = stupidity in that it ultimately corrupts government and wrecks the ability of a society to function rationally.

    • “The Republican Party has learned nothing.”

      Indeed. A good number of them have just simply doubled down on stupid.

    • The decision to aid a part of the USA instead of poorer countries isn´t as hard as you seem to think it is, Magma. It could be though as more “rational” to aid first those that are poorer, but those decisions are emotional. We aid those we identify with, we aid those who have aided us in the past, we aid those we have been informed that are suffering.

      Here in Brasil there is often fundraisers for disasters that are sponsored by major banks (and, as far as I known, they´re surprisingly effective, with the banks really transfering the money for who should receive it. At least I known that similar fundraisers done for the disaster of Samarco and for helping people caught in the Kiss bar fire did transfer money properly).

      We use an eletronic cashier, before the menu for bank operations open, we see a message, asking if we want to send aid for a disaster relief fund. Those messages aren´t always there (once they were rarer, but…). In the last months, there were messages for aiding Syria, Venezuela, Houston, Haiti, Miami and Mexico.

      Yes, there hasn´t been a drive for Dominicana, Saint Marteen, Barbuda, Cuba or Puerto Rico. Complaining to my bank manager, I learned that about the first ones, it was a commercial thing. Most people who asking the bank to do a fundraiser after Maria wanted to help Miami or Haiti, and it´s far easier to the bank to send resources there, so… About Puerto Rico, there were more people besides me complaining, but the bank hadn´t found an official way to help yet. There was a diplomatic issue that severily curtailled the hability for official help (my account is in Banco do Brasil, an state bank, so…) .

      It probably is the same mentioned here by the UN:

      • I named the wrong hurricane, where it says “Maria” above should read “Irma”.

      • eleggua

         /  September 29, 2017

        ” Wells Fargo‏Verified account @WellsFargo Sep 28
        Replying to @byHeatherLong
        Hi Heather. We will be accepting donations for Hurricane Maria relief efforts through our ATMs starting tomorrow. -Rosa”

        ” Heather Long‏Verified account @byHeatherLong 23 hours ago
        Glad to hear it. Thanks for the response! As a customer, I hope to donate”

        • eleggua

           /  September 29, 2017

          Wells are ferrying the donations to the Red Cross. That’s an uncertain way to help, from all that I’ve gathered.

          ‘Spencer: Red Cross efforts are deceptive, donate relief funds elsewhere’
          September 27, 2017


          “Only seven years ago, an earthquake shook the foundations of Haiti, and the Red Cross was able to muster $500 million in donation funds. The organization subsequently spent a fifth of that money on internal expenses; an overwhelming $125 million.

          The Red Cross took the remainder of their Haiti funds and dispersed them to other small nonprofit organizations. These nonprofits took another 11 percent of the donated cash for their own internal program expenses. This reveals two things: the Red Cross has other organizations doing at least a portion of the charitable work that the ARC claims to be doing, and that their statement that 91 cents of every donated dollar goes into relief efforts is a fib.

          More shockingly, the American Red Cross built a dismal number of six permanent homes in response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010. That’s right, only six permanent homes were built with the enormous $500 million capital that the disaster relief organization started with.

          Representatives of the Red Cross responded to criticism revolving around how they spent their Haiti funds stating their spending was, “entirely justifiable given the size and complexity of the Haiti program.”

          …When asked to disclose what amount of donations given to the Hurricane Harvey Red Cross effort, the group was reluctant to give a response.

          “Yeah, I don’t think I know the answer to that,” said Brad Kieserman, a Red Cross executive, “I don’t know the answer to the financial question, I’m afraid.”

          It’s concerning that the organization cannot say what percent of donations are actually being utilized in relief efforts. This is especially true knowing that Red Cross CEO, Gail McGovern, has previously made the claim that over 90 percent of donations go into their services.

          For those in Fort Collins that wish to make most impact on the lives affected by recent natural disasters in Texas, I advise them to donate to United Way of Greater Houston. According to Charity Navigator, this organization puts over 87 percent of their funds into the services they promise to deliver. Moreover, the Houston Food Bank may be another wise organization to donate funds too; they put 96 percent of their donations into their programs….

          If you are trying to make a difference in the lives affected by recent natural disasters, donating to the American Red Cross is not the way to go. Their track record reveals that their donated funds are misappropriated, which is building the organization an increasingly worse reputation among disaster relief groups.”

        • eleggua

           /  September 29, 2017

          “…The American Red Cross, for example, is considered a highly rated three-star organization by Charity Navigator, but it has come under fire in recent years after ProPublica and National Public Radio investigated how it spent money in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. (Read the Red Cross’s response here.) More recently, the Red Cross apologized for having to temporarily suspend registrations for financial assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

          For those seeking more information about a particular charity, “digging a little deeper might entail just contacting the organization,” Ms. Nason said.

          Ask questions and seek detailed answers. Has the nonprofit explained how it is going to use its funds? Does it have a specific destination for funds donated to relief efforts?…”

        • eleggua

           /  September 29, 2017

          ‘Red Cross Exec Doesn’t Know What Portion Of Donations Go To Harvey Relief’
          August 30, 2017


          “Editor’s note on Sept. 1: Some listeners and readers have asked why NPR pressed Red Cross operations and logistics executive Brad Kieserman about how much of the money his organization receives will actually be spent on helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey. NPR’s questions were follow-ups to several years of reporting by NPR and ProPublica about shortcomings in the organization’s disaster relief operations and misleading claims about its finances. NPR has asked several times in recent years to speak with Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern. Those requests have been turned down. Prior to this latest interview, NPR asked again. The organization said McGovern was unavailable, but did make Kieserman available.

          …A study released by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, concluded that the Red Cross had spent $124 million — one-quarter of the money donors gave for earthquake relief in Haiti in 2010 — on internal expenses….

          Chang: Through donations, how much of every dollar goes to relief?

          Kieserman: Yeah, I don’t think I know the answer to that any better than the chief fundraiser knows how many, how much it costs to put a volunteer downrange for a week and how many emergency response vehicles I have on the road today. So I think if he was on this interview and you were asking how many relief vehicles in Texas, I don’t think he’d know the answer and I don’t know the answer to the financial question I’m afraid.

          Ailsa pressed on. She said that NPR had reported that 25 percent of the money donated for Haiti to the American Red Cross after the 2010 earthquake went to internal spending.

          Chang: Is that still happening? Such a substantial percentage of donations going to internal administrative costs, rather than to relief?

          Kieserman: It’s not something I would have any visibility on. I can talk about what it costs to deliver certain relief services.

          Chang: Yeah.

          Kieserman: But the way the internal revenue stream works, uhh …

          Chang: You don’t know what portion of that amount.

          Kierserman: Not really.

          Chang: You don’t know what portion of that total amount is for relief.

          Kieserman: No, I really don’t. I wish I could answer your question, but it’s not something I have visibility on in the role that I play in this organization…..”

          The Red Cross is sketchy. Their own head of Operations cannot even say where the money actually goes. There are many solid, reliable ways to help. Do your own research before throwing away good money on bad efforts.

        • He, the iniciative is similar, but thankfully not the same as in Banco do Brasil (in Haiti, that I´m using as example because that was the one I´ve asked, they´re mostly helping Médicins sans frontiéres. Usually they transfer the money to a big NGOs that´s working in the local disaster scene). I´m frankly very wary of the Red Cross too.

  20. Suzanne

     /  September 29, 2017

    At Vox..a comprehensive look at the disaster in PR..and ways to help.
    “What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria disaster”

  21. Suzanne

     /  September 29, 2017

    And finally…again at Vox…this morning:
    “One of the clearest signs of CC in Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey is the rain”

    Images of the flooded metropolises of Houston, Jacksonville, and San Juan with overtopped dams, billowing sewage, and flooded homes show that torrential rain can be one of the most devastating consequences of hurricanes, especially in urban areas where concrete makes it harder for water to drain and where people can drown.

    Scientists say the extreme rainfall events that feed these floods are on the rise for many parts of the world, and this year’s hurricanes fit that trend. In particular, rising temperatures in the ocean and the air alongside booming construction in vulnerable areas are fueling the increased risk from massive deluges.

    • Warming the atmosphere and the ocean increases atmospheric water vapor content. The net result is both more lift and more water in the atmosphere. Lift means convection — which makes the strongest storms stronger. More water vapor and more lift means that rain tends to fall less as light to moderate events and more as heavy events. In addition, the heaviest rains grow heavier even as storms, overall, tend to hit higher peak intensity. It’s a vicious cycle.

  22. cushngtree

     /  September 29, 2017

    Caritas de puerto rico is based in San Juan, an affiliate of Catholic Charities which has an A+ rating from Charity Watch.


    “Donate today to support our disaster relief efforts. Please note: 100 percent of funds raised will go directly towards disaster efforts”.

  23. wili

     /  September 29, 2017

    Eric Holthaus: I’ve been calling, texting, & DMing with Puerto Ricans on the island and around the country.
    Here are their stories:


  24. wili

     /  September 29, 2017

    Besides aid, we can all also try to contribute a bit less to the problem.

    Cows produce more methane than previously thought: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/29/methane-emissions-cattle-11-percent-higher-than-estimated

    (But of course educational and political efforts to change systems can be even more important.)

  25. Thank you for being a consistent and reliable resource. On global climate and environmental issues. I appreciate your clear, articulate writing and perspective.

    Like you, I am astounded by the conduct of the administration in response to the Puerto Rico crisis. I have been moved and inspired by what is happening there (as well as globally) and feel immense pain and frustration regarding the administration’s lack of preparation and inaction.

    I shared your post and invitation to use this comment thread as a forum for resources on my feeds.

    Thank you again. 🙏💜🦋

    • Thanks for the kind words and welcome, Susan. I think we’re all on the same mission here — helping people and preventing harm. Warmest regards.

  26. eleggua

     /  September 29, 2017

    Donor fatigue is a serious issue right now. The really serious issue and what’s yet to come says to me, we must totally change our economic system; we must change the power structure on every level, energy power and political power. Those systems and structures doe not serve the present and will not serve the future with regard to the certainty of inevitable disasters yet-to-come.

    ‘What The Pileup Of U.S. Disasters Means For The World’
    September 29, 2017


    “…World Vision International is a major provider of disaster relief across the globe. So when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the group revved up its fundraising big-time.
    “We’ve raised just under $4 million in cash donations,” says Drew Clark, the charity’s senior director of emergencies.

    Two weeks later Hurricane Irma roared through the Caribbean and Florida. This time World Vision brought in $900,000.

    Then came the big earthquake in Mexico that killed more than 340 people. That fundraising appeal netted $150,000. And for Hurricane Maria — which has left many of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico without reliable sources of power, food or even water — World Vision has only taken in about $100,000.

    “There is clearly evidence of donor fatigue,” says Clark. “There’s just a limit to the amount of responses that we can successfully fundraise for.”

    Donor fatigue is just one of many ways that organizations and U.S. government agencies that handle disasters are feeling the pressure of a unique pileup of catastrophic events.

    “I would say it is somewhat unprecedented,” says Leisel Talley of the epic cascade of disasters. She is leading the international component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to the hurricanes.

    “This year has been particularly challenging.”

    Talley says it’s not just that the U.S. has been clobbered with three disasters in a row. It’s that this happened alongside multiple new crises since August. Besides the Mexico earthquake, there was a landslide killing a thousand people in Sierra Leone. And in Bangladesh, half a million Muslim Rohingya refugees have poured in, fleeing violence in Myanmar….”

    And that tally doesn’t include the effects of the monsoon in South Asia, where over 45million people were affected. (That figure comes from UNICEF.)

    Think of the multi-million dollar advertising budgets of multi-national corporations. Think of where many of them stash their loot, in offshore accounts so as avoid taxes. Their donations to causes aren’t anywhere near enough to make a long-term difference. Ask folks that work in Development for nonprofit causes what’s up with the struggles to get what is essentially pennies from those (fat) cats; it’s a fncking crime, the dance they’re put through and how much ass they’ve to kiss to get hardly anything that might make a serious difference.

    I don’t have the answer; anarchy isn’t it. Something peaceful and democratic is the only wayt to sort out a better future vis a vis economics at-large as well as climate change, which are obviously completely and inescapably intertwined. The level of conversation around that issue must rise much faster, and much faster than the rise of sea level, most definitely.

    • Kassy

       /  September 30, 2017

      If we were adult about it we would conclude we share one planet together. We could view ourself as one big civilisation.

      Civilizations collapse either because they fail to manage their natural surroundings properly (like we do now with climate change) or because the internal inequality in wealth distribution becomes to large (also an issue).

      We should all agree on a fair worldwide minimum tariffs for corporations (and if you all use the same it does not have to be small since it is the same for everyone). If you do it with nearly all important countries you can freeze out unwilling offshore tax havens too. Their banks then can’t be used for business and transferring large sums of money to baks that can for corporations (or individuals) can only be done after a thorough audit.

      Corporations don’t like this so we will probably not get this soon. And it takes “tools” away from politicians so they won’t like it either.

      • eleggua

         /  September 30, 2017

        Too bad for them and what they don’t like. “We” are a global chorus of civilized adults that are poised to have the final say in the direction we – the global civilization – are headed:
        a peaceful, cooperative path forward.

        50 years after 1968, we’re going to experience and take part in amazing positive change that will echo and amplify the positive changes promoted that year. Dangerous times, too, for sure. Be well, be careful, take care.

    • The comment section of the article say all sorts of bad things about the Mayor of San Juan..like she supported a terror group that set off several bombs in the USA(when I hear accusations like that I say it was probably the CIA..if they happened at all)

      • eleggua

         /  October 10, 2017

        Not entirely true; not entirely false. Oscar López Rivera was never connected to the bombings, however he was a leader of the FALN and did admit to some heavy charges.
        She is a very vocal supporter of Rivera and publically celebrated his release from Federal Prision in the US.

        Her support of Rivera should not be used to tarnish her vociferous condemnation of the White House’s response to the tragedies in Puerto Rico. Important to keep facts straight, though.

        “She is also an unapologetic supporter of Oscar López Rivera, the Puerto Rican militant associated with a group that carried out a deadly campaign of bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.”

        From the Wikipedia page for Oscar López Rivera:

        “use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property. López Rivera admitted committing every act with which he was charged, but declared himself a political prisoner and refused to take part in most of the trial proceedings. He maintained that according to international law he was an anticolonial combatant and could not be prosecuted by the United States government. On August 11, 1981, López Rivera was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in federal prison.”


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