Weekly Update #4 From Puerto Rico

Since the first and longer post is no longer a Sticky, I’ve asked Astrid (@artistikem) in Puerto Rico to submit a weekly update on relief efforts and the status of things there. Each of these Updates will be a Sticky for a week. Let’s help end the misery down there. Scroll down one for each day’s new posts (if any).

There’s a thing called Disaster PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and it’s something that, in theory, we all know exists, but it isn’t until it happens to you that you manage to comprehend what it truly is and how horrible it can be.

I remember hurricanes hitting our island throughout my lifetime. Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I was 5 years old but still, I remember how we hunkered down for that one, or how I had to accompany my Dad in a drive from Caguas to San Juan after Hortense in 1996 through some debris and mudslides in the highway. What I remember the most was the process of securing windows and doors and stocking on food. María, however, came to change it all.

This weekend we were hit by rain and winds of 25-30mph with 35-40mph gusts and I’m not lying when I tell you there were people freaking out all over my Facebook. We were all having flashbacks of the storm and it wasn’t pretty. Some cope through humor, telling you between laughs how they had to pick up things that had floated down the street due to the floods. I know someone who had to go pick up her and her husband’s clothes scattered all over a mountain that flanked their home.

But we haven’t healed, and our government is making it ten times worse by implementing changes that affect us directly.

Naomi Klein visited the island and a conference was held at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras where she said:

“The corporate and political elites from outside of Puerto Rico have not lost time exploiting Maria’s trauma to push forward false and ruinous solutions, from the privatization of essential services to attacks on education, with its privatization policy. In this context of the rampant disaster of capitalism, there is an urgent moral imperative to inform, leading people to know the real roots of the superimposed crisis that has fallen on these islands, with climate change, the racist system, brutal austerity, illegitimate and odious debt, and colonialism.”

Her proposed solution?

“With the vultures circulating, this is the critical moment for Puerto Ricans, on their own initiative, to organize themselves [through] grassroots movements, to design their own innovative and holistic solutions, ones that simultaneously lower greenhouse gas emissions while creating good unionized jobs and fight against all forms of injustice and inequity. Doing that visionary work in the middle of disaster development may feel…impossible, but if I have learned something during my time here, it’s that Puerto Ricans do the impossible every day of their lives.” (http://caribbeanbusiness.com/implementation-of-shock-doctrine-in-puerto-rico-denounced/)

It has been thanks to groups and organizations in the island that we’ve managed to recover the little we have recovered. The help coming in through these groups is the one being distributed to areas where others haven’t been able to reach.

It is my thinking that, had our government acted the same way thousands of others have — like all those who’ve read my pleas and sent help in one way or another have — our collective PTSD would’ve subsided by now. But, as Klein herself put it, it’s the trauma they’re feeding off. If you keep people without water or power, if you leave streets filled with debris, if you let people keep driving through battered streets with nonexistent traffic lights, you tire them enough for them not to care about what the government is doing.

But we’re resilient enough to keep going, to keep pushing. Donations are still coming in and we’ll keep on channeling them for as long as we need to. Friday night I got a huge one from a cell phone company [Astrid didn’t want to name them. I do: T-Mobile.] thanks to a friend I’ve known since we were kids. My Amazon wish-list is still going and will be for what appears to be a long time.

It’s your help what’s keeping us going, what’s keeping us sane. So please, do remember there are still people without roofs and without basic supplies here. If you can’t donate please, at least spread the word.

More info on donations received/delivered can be found on my Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artistikem

If you’d like to donate to my relief effort, here’s how to:

Amazon wish-list: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/3T4USG7ULMQN2
Amazon gift cards: artistikem@gmail.com
PayPal: artistikem@gmail.com
Mail: Artistikem PO BOX 7225 Caguas PR 00726-7225
ATH Móvil: 787-366-5068

Previously here:

Weekly Update #3 From Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico And America’s House Of Cards
Weekly Update #1 From Puerto Rico
The Post-Maria Horror In Puerto Rico Continues
Third Update From Puerto Rico
Don’t Forget Puerto Rico Or Its Abandoned Pets
Puerto Rico Is Still In Trouble
Second Update From Puerto Rico
An Update From Puerto Rico
Amazon Wish List For Hurricane Maria Relief In Puerto Rico

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