The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, is a political climber. She, like Ray Nagin, is incompetent and presides over a corrupt city. Most Democratic cities are run like this and the daily side effects are widespread poverty, public service failures, crime, and misery. That’s to be expected, though. That’s just life under Democrats.
These weaknesses tend to morph into full-blown public service failures under the least amount of stress. In the wake of a Category 5 hurricane, where even well-run cities and municipalities are strained to their limits, a weak system experiences catastrophe. That’s what’s happening in San Juan.
It can take hours, days, and even weeks and months for outside help to come. With total devastation and incompetence by local officials, the outside help gets hindered and delayed. And there is outside help. Lots of it.
America has seen multiple devastating natural and man-made disasters in the last twenty years. We’ve learned some things:
- FEMA cannot be there instantly. Local people have to help one another. It’s sad and pathetic to see the learned helplessness and depressed response to crisis in some communities. For so long, they’ve been dependent, that when trouble comes, they look outside for salvation, instead of amongst themselves.
- Help gets there more quickly when the local leaders know what they’re doing. Local authorities are invaluable. They must be available to point outside resources in the right direction. If they, like the San Juan mayor, refuse to engage with outside authorities, and spend their time politicizing instead of strategizing, hours and days are lost that could have been spent helping people.
- Good local governance makes the difference. In Louisiana, New Orleans experienced a double-whammy of incompetence between the mayor and the Governor. In Texas, the state and local leadership was competent, diligent and team-oriented. Harvey could have been an even greater tragedy. Fortunately, the state leadership and citizens learned its lessons from Allison, Ike, and Rita, and knew better what to do. Now, in Puerto Rico, the people are in shock and an overwhelmed, emotional, and underskilled leader is flailing around. This is in contrast to other leaders in the region.
Federal resources will be thin because of the devastation in Texas and Florida. America is experiencing difficulty everywhere and the citizens have shown amazing resilience.
What’s not needed is for local leaders to screech, “genocide!” when that description is a slap in the face of those who’ve actually experienced genocide and when it’s not remotely true. Ms. Cruz should be about calming her citizens, not terrifying them.
All politics are local. It’s certainly true during disasters. The people of San Juan are learning this the hard way.
Department of Agriculture 106th Rescue Wing