Fellow citizens will need U.S. assistance

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

Millions of U.S. citizens may be without electricity for the next several weeks or months.

That’s the reality facing Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria slammed the island. It was the strongest hurricane to hit the island in more than 80 years.

On Thursday, rescuers were still searching for victims after the storm knocked out the entire electrical grid, destroyed property and caused flooding, The Associated Press reported.

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The island had been brushed by Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago, and Puerto Rico had served as a safehaven for people fleeing that storm.

So far, the death toll has been relatively low. That may change once the skies clear and rescue crews finish their work.

Imagine this kind of destruction in a major U.S. city. Sure, this season’s hurricanes have been damaging but not on this scale. The island’s entire electrical grid was damaged. Some officials estimate it could be 4-6 months before full electrical service is restored.

While there has been extensive news coverage of the storm, there hasn’t been the same outpouring of support. But Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, not foreigners we can ignore.

These people need the full support of the federal government. President Trump has approved a federal disaster declaration for the island. That’s a good first step, and we hope that kind of support continues.

As you consider helping the victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey,  don’t forget our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.