Puerto Rico is still climbing out, three days after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island as a Category 4 storm, the strongest hurricane to make a direct hit on the U.S. territory in nearly a century. Power is off across the entire island. Floods, downed utilities and the scarcity of food, water and medicines are worsening a public health crisis that grows by the day. The U.S. government is stretched in its hurricane response, still helping millions hit by Harvey and Irma. But the response in Puerto Rico also must be a national priority.
The devastation is awful and the full impact is not yet known as rescuers in kayaks are only now reaching some of the hard-hit rural areas. This island of 3.5 million people was already in dire straits, recovering from a glancing blow from Irma that left half the island without power. Drowning in debt, with a shabby infrastructure and an uncertain future, Puerto Rico now faces a multibillion dollar reconstruction effort. Officials said it could take "months and months" to restore electricity, the most basic building block in any modern society.
Floridians are still picking up from Irma and understandably have hurricane fatigue. Maria's wrath paints a fuller picture of the power of these storms, and of how randomly geography can spell the difference between doom and luck. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. They need help desperately. Harvey and Irma showed how big a role private businesses and citizens played in helping those affected get back on their feet. Those who can help Puerto Rico should.