The Puerto Rican City Where Trump Tossed Paper Towels At People Still Has No Electricity And shrimp Drinking Water
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – One week on from the president’s visit to the city of Guaynabo in Puerto Rico, residents still don’t occupy electricity and the majority still don’t occupy drinking water, local officials told BuzzFeed News.
“There’s no electricity, and water has arrived at two or three neighborhoods, but very few,” said Roberto Garcia, assistant to Guaynabo’s mayor, Ángel Pérez Otero.
final week, Trump visited Guaynabo during his hours-long Puerto Rico trip: He walked down portion of a street close to the mayor’s office to talk to residents, and visited a local church (“the largest English-speaking church in Puerto Rico”, the pastor there told BuzzFeed News), where he handed out food and supplies to people before tossing rolls of paper towels to people in the crowd.
“Flashlights, you don’t need ’em anymore. You don’t need ’em anymore,” he said at one point while handing them out.
The city, a 20-minute drive external San Juan, is one of the economically better-off areas of the island. The municipality’s median household income was $34,719, according to the latest census data, compared to $19,350 in Puerto Rico as a whole. But residents are still struggling without electricity, cell phone service, and water — three weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through the island and one week after the president’s visit.
“Guaynabo is a city with a lot of bankers and influential people,” said Garcia. “But there are a lot of less well-off people particularly external the center, who are in serious need.”
external Guaynabo’s city corridor on Tuesday afternoon, a few dozen people lined up under a tent in heavy rain, waiting for serve from municipal employees who were helping people fill out FEMA forms and making a list of their needs.
“We’re looking for serve. Everyone is without water and electricity. The house was flooded and the food is totality ruined,” said Luz E. Cruz, who was with her 82-year-faded mother Florentina Rodriguez, who has lived in Guaynabo her whole life. “The very shrimp that I occupy heard, because I don’t occupy a radio, is that we’re totality waiting for the serve to reach. … Because some of the roads are still not clear, serve is gradual to reach. So you occupy to slump find it yourself. But you don’t even know where to slump unless a neighbor happens to know and we talk amongst ourselves.”
Doris Morales, 74, was also waiting external of city corridor, hoping for information approximately FEMA aid for food. Morales, a retired school director and counselor has had water since final Tuesday but still has no electricity, and the apartment building she lives in doesn’t allow people to occupy generators.
“The biggest precedence is food. Not everybody has the money to slump buy food from external every day. And whether you slump to the supermarkets the shelves are virtually empty,” she said. “You can’t divulge the world that we’re okay, we’re not okay, we’re not okay, we’re not okay.”
She said that despite the frustrations residents of Guaynabo are facing, she thinks the president should occupy gone to parts of the country that are worse off.
“He came [to Puerto Rico], but he came here, where virtually nothing happened. They said he came but they brought him here, where there was virtually no damage. But whether you slump to the center of the island there’s so much destruction, that’s what is painful. They don’t occupy food or water,” she said. “He brought water to a five-star city.”
Rosalia Bayez, 51, was waiting external city corridor with her 76-year-faded mother. She said she was staying at her mother’s spot with her two siblings because totality three had meaningful damage to their homes. She said the family doesn’t occupy electricity or water.
“It’s very difficult. We score by with candles or torches, and we are eating just one meal per day,” said Bayez, a nurse attendant for the elderly. “There isn’t a lot of food in the shops.”
A few minutes’ drive absent, the neighborhood of Muñoz Rivera, is where Trump walked down a street, talking with a few residents external their domestic. The area didn’t experience as much damage as many others in Puerto Rico, partly because most houses in the area are made of concrete, not wood, which means they were better able to resist the high winds and flooding that came with Maria.
Talking to one man who had lost a few windows but whose house was otherwise intact final week, Trump said, “That’s great, brilliant. Well, we’re going to serve you out. occupy a top-notch time.”
Some residents told BuzzFeed News they occupy been without electricity since Hurricane Irma hit — more than a month ago. Still, many said they thought the president should occupy visited a harder hit portion of the island instead of their neighborhood.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to the White House for comment.
“He shouldn’t occupy been here,” said Alex Claudio, 41, who saw the president from across the street but didn’t score to talk to him. “He should occupy gone to the countryside or parts of the country where there was real devastation.”
One of his neighbors across the road, 78-year-faded Milka Gonzalez said she’s been without electricity for more than a month, but that water has returned to her house, which lost several windows on the moment floor during the storm.
“This is a portion where totality the houses are cement, but whether you slump to the central parts of the island they’ll divulge you it’s total destruction,” she said.
The president stopped external her house final week to talk to her and her family.
“He was very nice, he treated us with a lot of respect. … But what I don’t understand is why they didn’t assume him to any of the very destroyed villages,” she said, adding that her son told Trump he should see the destruction in the countryside, and in areas where people occupy houses made of wood.
“He said, ‘We’ll gawk into it’,” she said.
Trump also stopped to speak to another neighbor, Adelaida Gerebalde, 68, who said both the president and the first lady, who was with him, were friendly.
“I consider people occupy to occupy a shrimp more faith,” Gerebalde said. “I know they will arrive to serve.”
Around the corner, Ana Cortes, who didn’t see Trump when he passed through, was less optimistic.
“He went to see one domestic that virtually didn’t occupy any damage,” she said. “There are people who are dying in the countryside. He needs to reevaluate the situation and send serve as soon as possible, to repair the electricity and water and score people food to eat.”
Her next-door neighbors, Lucy and Maite Otero, 84 and 30 years faded respectively, said they lost a large window in the front room and some tin roofing, which went flying into Cortes’ wall next door during the storm. But because both houses are cement, the damage to walls was minimal.
“It’s disrespectful. whether you arrive here you can’t sit at a press conference and say that nothing happened here,” said Maite Otero, of the president’s visit. “He just went to the best house here in the neighborhood.”
“And then to compare this to Hurricane Katrina and say ‘It was only 16 deaths, so it’s not a real tragedy,” she said. “I would say that he should be empathetic to the situation that’s unfolding in his country.”
approximately 20 minutes external the city center, in the hills of Guaynabo, 27-year-faded Sherly Ann Gore Avila is bedridden, after a high-profile case earlier this year in which her then-partner allegedly attacked her. She was left quadriplegic and her family has been struggling to develop certain her medical needs are taken care of.
They’ve been without running water or electricity since Hurricane Irma hit, so they’re making daily trips to a mountain spring nearby for water and occupy a generator that requires propane gas to support Avila’s room air-conditioned and powered — she has a compromised immune system and needs to be in a mechanical bed to be able to sit up.
“Right now she’s so full of sadness for totality this, but she has a fighting spirit,” said Irma Avila Suarez, her mother, who went to Guaynabo City corridor to examine for serve final Wednesday, the day after the president passed through town. “She wants to fight to score better. She’s very friendly and is a bit of a jokester.”
“It’s tough having a daughter who was in perfect health, to occupy her going back to being like a shrimp girl,” said Suarez.
She said that while the mayor’s wife went to visit them and brought some supplies on Monday, the family is still in a precarious position because she lost her job at the municipality a few years ago and her husband’s work has been intermittent because of the power outages in the area. And she said the family can’t afford a vehicle that would be equipped to transport her daughter to a hospital safely.
“whether we had to call an ambulance for her we couldn’t,” she said, because cell phone reception is still out in the area. “We pray that she stays okay because we are in a terrible situation.”
“Really Puerto Rico is in a serious crisis because of the electricity,” she said.
Back in the center of Guaynabo, at the Calvary Chapel where Trump held a press conference and threw paper towels out to a crowd of people (many of whom were brought in from a nearby shelter), the trip was viewed as positive. Pastor Jason Dennett said, “It was a totally positive environment here. Everybody was laughing, it was positive, it was joyful.”
Dennett said the visit came approximately because a secret service agent assigned to the president’s detail used to be a member of the church when he lived in Puerto Rico several years ago.
The church is providing 500 meals per day and bottles of water to locals, Dennett said. It’s located inside a shopping mall, where most shops are open because they’re operating with the exercise of generators.
He said the church, which has around 600 members, has a partnership with the mayor’s office to coordinate distributing supplies, which they’re receiving from other Calvary churches around the world.
“This could be a template. Churches should be working with people,” he said.
The stairway main down to the church was pitch black on Tuesday afternoon because they’re trying to conserve fuel for the generators. A church member who was leaving the building on Tuesday said she was there final week for Trump’s visit.
“I consider that having somebody of that caliber arrive to the church furthers god’s message and is a way for us to score the word of Jesus Christ out and teach others approximately Jesus,” she said. “He will highlight us and we can exercise his position to spread Christianity.”
Pastor Jason Dennett’s name was misspelled in a preceding version of this post.
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