We have heard a lot about Puerto Rico, the U.S Territory massively impacted by Hurricane Maria.
I must ask though, what of St Thomas, St Croix and St John - The United States Virgin Island (USVI)? They too have experienced the ravages of two category 5 storms in the two weeks between Irma and Maria striking. Reports coming in is that the USVI is in dire need of Federal attention to aid their recovery effort.
Hurricane Irma firstly hit the islands hard on September 17th, and left about 90% of people without power. But Maria came two weeks later and further compounded that problem.
U.S President Trump is presently on the ground in Puerto Rico. After making insensitive comments prior to his arrival on the island towards San Juan's Mayor, Trump has landed on Puerto Rico on Tuesday October 3rd, and still proceeded to embark on trivialising the devastation people there are going through.
Trump, during a press conference in Puerto Rico asked that island's Governor Rossello, what the death count was following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The U.S President then went on to remark that Puerto Rico hadn't been hit by "a real catastrophe like Katrina."
Let that statement speak for itself.
The international aid group Oxfam recently announced it is joining the recovery effort on Puerto Rico, and accused the Trump Administration of a "slow and inadequate response" to the crisis.
Abby Maxman, the president of Oxfam America stated; "We are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US government has mounted in Puerto Rico."
She went to to mention; "Clean water, food, fuel, electricity, and health care are in desperately short supply and quickly dwindling, and we’re hearing excuses and criticism from the administration instead of a cohesive and compassionate response.
"The US has more than enough resources to mobilize an emergency response but has failed to do so in a swift and robust manner."
THE USVI'S PLIGHT
But what of the USVI? Where is Trump meeting USVI Governor Mapp on his visit to the territories?
Reports indicate that Trump will not be walking about on the ground in the USVI to see first hand the destruction, but instead the U.S. military will fly Mapp and some other disaster recovery officials to a naval vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico, where they will meet with Trump.
Mapp has stated that he will be asking the U.S President for more funds to help the USVI, in addition to what FEMA is already doing on the ground.
A CNN report yesterday mentioned; "The islands are still reeling. Many residents are without shelter, power or communication. Schools are still closed and debris still litters the street, hindering the transportation of resources and personnel."
Additionally, first hand reports have come in to MNI Media from family members of loved ones impacted by the storms who live abroad, seeking to send cash via Western Union to their loved ones. However this cash, we understand, cannot be collected by their family members in the USVI, as some Western Union branches are without the funds to distribute these remittances. This is further adding to the heartache in the USVI from all reports coming in to MNI Media
Samuel Topp, spokesman for Governor Mapp said; "A lot of people are without roofs or with partial roofs.... this is, of course, one of the priorities."
The damage on the USVI is also of grave concern, so what of the federal relief effort for these territories to get them back on track?
According to FEMA Spokesman Don Caetano, many residents have also been left without the means to communicate with only 33% of cell service restored.
There has been some hotspot locations set up by local telecommunication providers on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John so that residents can contact loved ones abroad.
It is understood that U.S President Donald Trump has amended a disaster declaration to allow for more federal funding to flow into the USVI to assist with debris removal.
With these funds Governor Mapp is seeking from Trump, what measures will be put in place to ensure that political gimmicks do not interfere with aid distribution, and a proper relief and clean up effort across the entire USVI? Many have been complaining that even from a local government level, the response to the destruction caused by both storms has been frustrating.