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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Let's help Puerto Rico

Neglected by the Trump government, Puerto Rico needs help from the American public
By Will Collette

Photo of SANILEC 6 Portable Sodium Hypochlorite Generatorsince Donald Trump has decided to forget about the hurricane-wrecked US territory of Puerto Rico, it’s up to the rest of us to step up to help.

A few rolls of paper towels are just not enough to restore electricity, basic infrastructure and especially clean drinking water to all those neglected US citizens.

I have never in my 68 years of life ever seen the United States turn its back on other Americans stricken by disaster as our government has in the case of Puerto Rico.

You could also add the US Virgin Islands, where power is still out for 60% of the residents, 75% of the capital.

Simply put, Donald Trump does not care. So I'm glad so many other people are stepping up.

Americans major labor unions, led by the teachers’ unions, have put together a charity called Operation Agua to provide practical water cleaning systems both for individual homes as well larger water systems.

As you think about what you can do to help (and make end of year Christmas gifts), I think you should click on Operation Agua and give generously.

Here is an overview of the project from the American Federation of Teachers:

The massive damage caused by Hurricane Maria and the lack of electricity and clean water on the island of Puerto Rico continue to threaten the health, safety and lives of millions of American citizens. 

This is a humanitarian crisis the likes of which we have never seen in our country.

AFT President Randi Weingarten spent several days in Puerto Rico after the storm, where she witnessed the devastation and the tremendous need firsthand. 

In most areas, it still looks like the hurricane struck three days ago, not more than a month ago. 

People are resorting to collecting water in contaminated waterways, or from runoff, and there are reports of some even drinking from toxic Superfund sites. 

And the danger is not over for those with running water; because water-treatment plants are still not operational, tap water may be tainted with raw sewage.

AFT nurses spent two weeks in Puerto Rico setting up clinics across the island, and they raised the alarm not only about the dehydration that people are experiencing but also about the danger of waterborne illnesses caused by the lack of clean drinking water.

Photo of INDIVIDUAL SYSTEM - KOHLER Clarity Water Filtration
For individual homes
When Weingarten asked San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz what she needed, she said, “Continue to speak out about the crisis in Puerto Rico and help get clean water to more people.”

So, that is exactly what we intend to do via Operation Agua.

The AFT, in partnership with Operation Blessing International, AFSCME and the Hispanic Federation, launched Operation Agua to provide safe drinking water to families across Puerto Rico. 

Operation Agua’s initial goal is to purchase and distribute 100,000 individual water filtration systems for households and classrooms, and 50 large-capacity clean-water devices to a network of nonprofit organizations, union offices, schools and other community-based groups to provide stable and reliable sources of safe water.

This unique coalition brings together relationships with manufacturers, experience providing clean water across the globe, partnerships with shipping and transport workers and corporations, and access to a regional and school-based infrastructure across the island to deliver clean water to people.

Since Hurricane Maria hit, the federal government has failed in its responsibility to provide the resources, infrastructure and distribution efforts our fellow citizens need. 

For this reason, we have come together to address the lack of reliable, clean drinking water to help alleviate further human suffering, hopefully prevent further loss of life and prevent a massive outbreak of waterborne diseases.

Operation Agua is not a handout but a hand up for our fellow Americans suffering and dying in Puerto Rico.