Hurricane Maria unearths concern about Puerto Rico’s water system

World Today

The Trump administration is asking U.S. lawmakers to approve $29 Billion in disaster relief funding.

The money would be used to assist hurricane recovery efforts in Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Two weeks later, nearly all of Puerto Rico is still without electricity. And, more than half of the island lacks running water.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez explains the growing concern over the environmental and health impact Hurricane Maria is having on the island.

Catano is home to several polluting industries. Residents have been dealing with contaminated waters for years and Hurricane Maria made a bad situation worse.

The town has the highest incidence of cancer and respiratory diseases reported in Puerto Rico, and activists point to its proximity to an oil powered electric plant. Local and federal governments had implemented a conservation program to alleviate the environmental impact in the area. Hurricane Maria wiped that too.

The wind took most of the vegetation and soil that served to filter out many of the regional pollutants. The ecosystem is ruined and that’s not the only threat. Contaminated floodwaters can give rise– not only to mosquito-borne diseases like Zika-but to bacterial illnesses and reactions to toxins.

Leaders in Catano fear that this natural disaster will quickly devolve into a health crisis. They are cleaning the roads as much as they can, but worry that the remaining dust in the air, combined with a mosquito outbreak, could in the end, threaten Puerto Rico residents even more than Hurricane Maria itself.