Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2019. It had a catastrophic impact that left this “U.S territory” in shambles. More than one-third of the island’s homes were destroyed, and there was no fresh water and no power for months. Thousands of lives were lost to this disaster. The islanders had hope of help and aid from America, except they remained decimated for weeks. Weeks became months, and months became a year, and even two years after the destruction, there is still so much to build.
Not only was there a lack of aid being sent to Puerto Rico, but there was barely media coverage. Especially, when comparing the media coverage to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. At the time of Maria, the U.S had survived through Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The response to Harvey and Irma were significantly different to the response given to Puerto Rico. For example, FEMA had stated that their resources were already limited by the time Hurricane Maria had made landfall in Puerto Rico, and that key emergency supplies were short. Why was the aid and the response to help so low? Maybe, it is because of the lack of media coverage on Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico. One source shows the difference of coverage amongst Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. This piece was published a week after Maria had hit Puerto Rico, a time in which its impact should be spoken about most.
The author explains this graph as “Data from Media Cloud, a database that collects news published on the internet every day, shows that the devastation in Puerto Rico is getting comparatively little attention.” (Mehta, P 2). I remember when Maria was occurring. I remember the very little attention it received on news outlets. I saw maria, as just another Hurricane. I did not know of the significant damage it had caused. I especially was unaware of its death toll. I remember seeing one news outlet saying that less than twenty people has passed; I thought to myself that it didn’t seem as catastrophic as other Hurricanes, such as Katrina. One media clip that I constantly saw was President Trump throwing paper towels into a sea of survivors. This one clip got every media’s station attention. I remember seeing that clip more than I had seen any video showing the damages of Maria. In my opinion, I believe that clip had gained more attention from media outlets than Hurricane Maria. President trump’s paper towel stunt had become the heart of twitter memes. After seeing the memes in response to Trump I began to follow the story of Maria and how it had left Puerto Rico crippled. Soon, Puerto Rican celebrities were raising money to rebuild Puerto Rico and also raising awareness of Maria. Finally, there was recognition of how powerful this storm and how damaging it was to Puerto Rico. I believe News outlets did not show the damages of Puerto Rico and did not raise the attention it deserved. I believe the attention on Puerto Rico and Maria was brought upon by celebrities. Unfortunately, it still was not enough, and Puerto Ricans are still suffering from the aftermath of Maria.
It has been two years since Hurricane Maria and its two-year anniversary went unmentioned on most media sources. I would not have known of its anniversary if it was not for one of my courses. Although, this anniversary went unknown to most American’s, many Puerto Ricans spoke out demanding that Puerto Rico must become a topic of discussion during the presidential elections of ‘2020. On this anniversary there was a climate change strike in Manhattan. Activist performed a demonstration to show the effects Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico; these activists would wear a blue tarp above their heads. The climate change strike was to show support for anyone who had experienced the consequences of a natural disaster, Hurricane Maria’s effects where shared amongst the effects of Harvey, Irma, Sandy and ect. This protest went documented and had relevancy on news outlets. The topic of Maria did not gain much coverage. Images of the climate change strike surfaced all over the internet. But to no surprise, its relevancy was short live. I saw the climate strike on news outlets for a brief amount of time. There was also a protest held in Puerto Rico, with nearly 600 protesters holding a demonstration in front of “El Capitolio”. This came to my knowledge only because I was trying to find a topic relevant to the 2nd anniversary of maria. The climate change movement in Puerto Rico is known as “Maria Generation.”
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico felt an earthquake with a magnitude of 6 the week of the 2nd anniversary of Maria. This earthquake has also left homes destroyed and the fragile land even more broken. I did not see much coverage on this either. I asked my peers around me if they had known about this earthquake and sadly got the same response of “no.” Just like Maria, I have seen minimal coverage on this event. I hope to see proper coverage in the future.