Just a few days ago, a friend wrote from San Juan wondering why President Trump “would send an aircraft carrier to Florida yet forgot about us, we are Americans, too…” I understand him. As Hurricane Irma approached, I was worried sick about my family in Puerto Rico and prayed that they would be okay. The one thing I did not worry about was President Trump’s commitment to his fellow Americans.
President Donald J. Trump declared a State of Emergency for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), and Florida before Hurricane Irma made its first landfall on American soil in the USVI. The President’s decision was an unequivocal step to confirm the commitment and compassion the President, and his administration, has for all Americans. To the chagrin of the mainstream media, the President knows firsthand that Puerto Rico and the USVI are in fact part of our nation and that swift action is always expected when Americans are in need.
The President’s emergency declaration immediately unlocked a slew of action from every federal department. Assets and money from the various agencies within the U.S Department of Homeland Security, including the U.S Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and others, were deployed immediately to preposition assets, materiel, and personnel at the ready to help our fellow Americans. Search and Rescue units from local agencies in Virginia, California, and other states began arriving in Puerto Rico before the storm as part of FEMA’s emergency prepositioning efforts. These units are actively engaged in urban search and rescue operations helping those in need today.
The U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) immediately deployed U.S. Navy ships with military and FEMA personnel to sail at high speed towards Puerto Rico and the USVI. More than four U.S. Navy ships with over three thousand (3,000) personnel arrived “on station” between Puerto Rico and the USVI within a day of the storm. These brave Americans, from Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, and Virginia just to name a few, have been providing indispensable humanitarian relief, search and rescue, airborne medical evacuation, on ship medical services, and much-needed hugs since their arrival.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) prepositioned a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) to Puerto Rico before Irma’s arrival to help provide any needed assistance. The Department of Energy embedded emergency responders with FEMA teams to address electricity and fuel supply needs. The Small Business Administration is providing business owners, homeowners, and renters with disaster loans to help rebuild lives and workplaces. I could go on and on about all the federal agencies that are actively helping recover from this disaster.
There are so many unsung heroes, from all levels of government and the private sector that immediately sprung to action to help their fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the USVI.
So, to my friend I wrote back “… the President didn’t forget you. In fact, he is so worried about all of you that he sent thousands of your fellow Americans to help make it better.”