Puerto Rico’s children need recovery funds

Puerto Rico’s children need recovery funds

BY ANDREW ROSZAK, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/13/18 01:00 PM EST Hurricane Maria made landfall and caused horrific damage in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 20, 2017. The historic storm caused widespread destruction to critical infrastructure throughout these islands. Now, 18 weeks after landfall, many people, including children, still lack access electricity and clean water, among other necessities. The damage has been so great that people are leaving Puerto Rico in record numbers. From Oct. 3, 2017 to Jan. 3, 2018, more than 297,000 individuals have arrived in Florida, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. As is the case in most disasters, even once the immediate threat goes away, the public health and environmental health issues persist. This is certainly the case in Puerto Rico. Numerous challenges, such as a lack of clean, reliable, drinking water to the widespread occurrence of mold compound recovery efforts. Adding to these challenges is the significant loss of the health workforce. Of the 15,000 doctors who were on the island when Maria made landfall, only 9,000 remain. As documented by Child Care Aware of America during a recent visit, the children of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands continue to feel the after effects of Hurricane Maria. On the islands, many are unable to return to child care or school due to a lack of power. While some schools are open, many are only operating for a few hours — they dismiss children in the early afternoon as the buildings become too hot to house them. For those who have left the islands they are struggling to adapt to a new...