Authorities in Puerto Rico are warning that Hurricane Maria has set the country back decades, with Gov. Ricardo Rossello stressing to The Washington Post that "we can't start overlooking us now that the storm passed, because the danger lurks." Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez added to The Associated Press that "the devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years."
Over the weekend, evacuees from a damaged dam in the territory's northeast began to return home because easing pressure on the infrastructure with a spillway apparently averted a potential crisis. Uncertainty about the situation in other parts of the island remains, though, with Rossello telling the Post on Sunday that he has yet to hear from six mayors in municipalities in the southern region.
Officially the death toll in Puerto Rico is 10 people, but there is concern that number could rise as communication with remote parts of the island returns. "Hysteria is starting to spread," said Manati Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez. "The hospital is about to collapse. It's at capacity. We need someone to help us immediately."
"We are U.S. citizens that just a few weeks ago went to the aid of other U.S. citizens even as we're going through our fiscal downturn and as we were hit by another storm," added Rossello. "Now, we've been essentially devastated. Complete destruction of the power infrastructure, severe destruction of the housing infrastructure, food and water are needed. My petition is that we were there once for our brothers and sisters, our other U.S. citizens, now it's time that U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are taken care of adequately, properly."
Critics of the Trump administration are quick to point out that the president spent his weekend tweeting about the NFL while not once addressing the crisis in Puerto Rico. More than 3 million Americans live on the island.