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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/7/18

Puerto Rico. A Reality No American Citizen Should Ever Have to Face

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By newpioneer, Community

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Sunset is usually a magical experience here on the island. The awe-inspiring painted skies make you really believe there is a power beyond our imagination.

Now, for so many thousands of families, a once revered time has become the dreaded hour that light fades, leaving them shrouded in a darkness they've suffered for 228 days.

No American should still be living this nightmare, but, here we are, only three weeks from the start of our next hurricane season.

For those fortunate enough to have a generator and even more fortunate to afford the crippling daily fuel costs, there is temporary power for the fridge, a light or two, the fan, maybe the t.v. or microwave if their generator is strong enough... for a few hours. Those few precious hours have another unavoidable price -- the incessant noise pollution and fumes that are very real dangers to our physical and mental health.

You might think that after seven months folks would get used to the nerve-wracking sounds and nauseating odors, but, you'd be wrong. There is no normalizing any of this.

For so many thousands of others, it's an incredibly stressful time of scraping together enough money for ice, fresh water, canned food, batteries, candles" then struggling to find sleep in the suffocating heat and praying for the sun to rise. The heavy toll of this daily grind cannot be over-exaggerated, it just can't.

Can you even imagine seven-and-a-half months of being without power? Even after everything I've been through, I can't.

I only had to survive two-and-a-half months without power or water before finding this apartment in the city with functioning utilities. Since the move, I've had my share of blackouts, but, it's nothing compared to the horrible conditions too many of my fellow islanders are still experiencing. I know better than to complain when struck with temporary darkness, no matter whether it's for 12, 24 or 48 hours at a time. The only displays of emotion we allow ourselves are the cheers that swell like a wave and then recede as block after block has power restored.

It's impossible to describe my appreciation for being able to turn on a light, or take a hot shower, or wash my clothes, or charge the phone, or reheat food in the microwave, or flush the toilet, or sleep through the night with a fan and without out the grinding, maddening sound of a generator. I'll never take any of this for granted ever again.

It's equally impossible for me to put out of my mind the devastating reality that other Puerto Ricans are forced to endure because of this administration's deplorable recovery efforts and their minimizing of this disaster. We all have family or friends outside of the metro area who are still suffering, and we all seem to share the same sense of survivor's guilt and shame for conditions that are beyond any of our control.

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