It’s been two months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving the island without power and causing the longest blackout in United States history.
Thousands of protesters marched throughout Washington D.C. on Sunday in the “Unity March for Puerto Rico,” a show of support for ongoing disaster relief efforts after the U.S. territory was decimated by Maria, a Category 4 storm.
The march, attended by numerous politicians, as well as celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda and chef José Andres, led protesters from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial.
As of Nov. 19, two months after the storm made landfall, 50 percent of the island is still without power. Power lines that have been restored remain unstable, causing daily, widespread outages. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that 75 percent of the island will have power by the end of January.
According to their website, Unity March organizers are calling for more aid in rebuilding Puerto Rico, the permanent repeal of the Jones Act (which slows down recovery efforts), and the cancellation of Puerto Rico’s more than $70 billion in debt.
President Donald Trump has previously criticized Puerto Rico’s debt, suggesting that it could limit the aid it receives. In fact, that criticism is one of the factors that prompted Sunday’s march.
Sunday in Puerto Rico
60 days after Maria
*49% power generation (power outages are occurring almost daily)
*91% of ppl have water (boil advisory remains in effect)
Today, Puerto Ricans are marching in Washigton DC using the hashtag #UnityMarchforPuertoRico
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) November 19, 2017
The Trump administration recently requested $44 billion in hurricane aid from Congress, though much of it would be dedicated to recovery in Florida and Texas. The White House’s request falls billions short of the aid sought by both Texas (Governor Abbot asked for $61 billion in aid) and Puerto Rico (Governor Rosselló requested $94 billion).
According to the White House, Puerto Rico’s damage assessment is still not completed, and more aid will be requested from Congress in the future.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers from areas affected by the Hurricane have called the White House’s response “wholly inadequate.”
In response, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday, “I don’t think $44 billion is a low amount and my guess is if you asked any average citizen across this country they wouldn’t feel that it’s low either.”