Connecticut-based Save the Children is calling on the Trump administration to intensify its relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
Greg Ramm, vice president of Humanitarian Response for the international child advocacy group, says just six days after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, President Donald Trump had asked Congress for $8 billion in relief.
“When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, there were no questions about its impact on the budget. We said our Americans are in distress, children are in distress, we will do what it takes to help them. In Puerto Rico it has not been the same.”
It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and the White House has said it will make a disaster funding request to Congress in mid-October.
Ramm says this is inadequate for the scale of the disaster. Save the Children wants the White House to expedite the funding request. It also wants the disaster designation to be expanded to include the entire island.
“Millions of Americans, nearly 700,000 children, still today don’t have access to power, to clean water, to food, to fuel, to shelter and not enough is being done.”
Ramm says this trauma is enhanced when people are uncertain that help is on the way.
“People of Texas knew that help was on the way from day one and that nobody would be left behind. It’s so essential that the people of Puerto Rico, know that no one will be left behind. No one will be forgotten.”
Ramm says of the 3.4 million people on the island, 700,000 are children. He says children have specific needs that must be met so they can deal with the trauma of living in a disaster zone.
“Having a safe place to play, a place to learn, having some normalcy in life is one of the most important steps in helping them recover, but that return to school needs to go alongside of safe clean drinking water, enough food, health care, the basics.”
Right now, Save the Children has an emergency response team on the ground in Puerto Rico. They’re distributing supplies like tarps, diapers, baby wipes and soap.