After Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas’s Gulf coast and flooded the state’s largest city, Americans came together in a big way to provide help and support for those caught in the storm’s path.
When Hurricane Irma racked Florida, the groundswell of assistance was comparable.
For its part, the federal government’s response thus far, has been tremendous, generous and immediate.
While years of recovery and rebuilding lie ahead for the people of both states, the basic needs of residents are being met and federal recovery dollars are on the way.
That is not the situation for Puerto Rico.
The island territory was devastated by a category 4 hurricane just over a week ago; its population of more than 3.4 million American citizens is largely without power, food and clean water.
“Make no mistake — this is a humanitarian disaster,” said Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. “People are starting to die.”
Indeed, the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, compared to those in Texas and Florida, are markedly different.
Some of that is a consequence of geography.
Puerto Rico’s ports and airports were badly damaged by Hurricane Maria, severely limiting the distribution of supplies and movements of personnel.
Its infrastructure is decimated, rendering people unable to communicate or access assistance on the ground.
While grassroots donations — thanks in part to the efforts of celebrities — have poured into Texas and Florida, Puerto Rico has attracted far less charitable aid.
And the response from the government has been slow and lackluster.
A recent poll found that only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, are U.S. citizens.
Indeed, this crisis is domestic, not foreign.
The people of Puerto Rico deserve the same response from the federal government as Florida and Texas.
And while Texans are understandably experiencing volunteer and donation fatigue, we must not forget how quickly the nation unified in support of our state. We must do the same for the people of Puerto Rico.