I live in the “Isla Verde” or tourist area in Puerto Rico. They are many high-rise apartment and hotel buildings here. Hurricane Maria roared in
on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, and lasted from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon. I live about three miles from the San
Juan airport, and the winds clocked in at 150 MPH. The eye wall of the storm passed five miles from where I live. People here are always
afraid of hurricanes that arrive from the southeast, and they are right. Maria crossed through the entire island with a fury. One NWS official
called it a “fifty mile wide tornado”. My apartment was sealed with storm shutters. I have a friend who installs storm shutters and he put
them in place. I had no damage to my apartment, but others were not so fortunate. The day after the hurricane I saw apartments with
windows blown out and storm shutters blown off (these were on the Atlantic beach side). There was a car in our front parking lot that was
parked on the left side of the lot. After the hurricane, it was on the right side of the lot with its windows blown out. The storm itself didn’t
scare me because I was sealed in my apartment. What did scare me was when the security guard knocked on my door vat 4 AM. “Are you
OK?”, she asked. At the end of the hall there was an apartment and water was shooting out from the bottom of the door, like a power
washer! A window had broken in the apartment and that’s where the water came from (the residents were not at home at the time). Since I
live near the airport, I can see aircraft coming in for a landing. After the hurricane, no commercial aircraft arrived, only military aircraft (from
the states). To be clear, a great deal of Puerto rico is shredded. Many people live in wooden houses in small communities, and those
communities are destroyed. There was no major structural damage in my area, mostly signns on stores and restaurants. (Walgreens has a
neon sign that says “farmicia”, it now reads “farm”.) The rain forest took a bit hit, and Old San Juan is doing OK. As I write this, only 25% of
the island has electricity, almost six weeks after the storm. Hurricane Maria is only one part of a larger problem facing Puerto Rico.
Please continue reading below.
Puerto Rico is in trouble because the model/form of government has failed the people. Puerto Roco is $72 billion in debt, due to the
government’s wreckless spending and unending borrowing of money for years. The Government Development Bank, the once “crown jewel”
of the island, created to spur economic growth, was billions in debt when it was dissolved this year. Both the water and electric companies,
run by the government, are deeply in debt. Puerto Rico has a government-centered economy. There have been only a few economic
initiatives outside the government. The island has been in recession for over ten years. Puerto Rico has a government it can’t afford. The
government is bloated, outdated, corrupt and inefficient. Last year, the government foolishly raised the sales tax to 10.5% to feed its needs.
This is one reason why the economy continues to contract instead of growing. The government resists change. The big issue this past year is
whether government workers will continue to receive their “Christmas bonus” which costs $120 million a year. With billions in debt, can the
government afford such spending for bonuses ? The governor is not honest with the people. He speaks of the dream of Puerto Rico becoming
the 51st state, but he knows that one of the criteria for statehood is economic stability and viability. We are far from that. The electric grid
system is 50 years old and not maintained well. Why has the government neglected this ? Inaction has consequences, and the current state
of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria shows this.