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While I feel for people who are suffering there is also the problem of expectations. When a disaster strikes, things don't immediately go back to normal. For the pictures leaking out of Puerto Rico, seeing people holding signs calling the response "inept" is flabbergasting. When the roads are destroyed, there are still flooded areas, no telecomms, no power...this is a logistical nightmare on par with an army invading a jungle. That federal response has moved as fast as it has actually has been better than expected. Department of Defense photography of their response actions so that they can build unit histories is available here:

A partially annotated look at links in unordered bibliography form:

Klein, B., & Liptak, K. (2017, September 29). Trump: US “will not rest” until Puerto Ricans are safe. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from

President Trump brought up the island's debt. That is important. Most authorities under the Stafford Act only allow loans for rebuilding. Puerto Rico is already in the hole for $76 billion. The power company is in the hole for $6 billion by itself. Both are seeking protection from creditors. If the current creditors cannot be paid, who is going to accept money from another loan to rebuild the power system? Is the federal government going to have to step in to write off the island's debt that it ran up on its own so that it can make a fresh start with a new power grid? In that second instance, there will need to be an Act of Congress appropriating that money and it will probably have to be taken away from somewhere else in the budget pie.

Statt, N. (2017, September 29). Alphabet’s Project Loon may deliver internet to Puerto Rico with hot air balloons. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from

What good is Internet access for people who have no power, no food, and barely have shelter? Look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Internet is a nice goal at the top of the hierarchy. Things at the foundation level, which truly does not include Internet access, are barely even being handled at the moment.

“No good news in Puerto Rico” says mayor. (2017, September 29). BBC News. Retrieved from

While perspective matters, this is an awesome mobilization. I've got a book on the shelf about the mobilization responding to Sandy in the New York City area. That was a mess and was of smaller scale than this. Lessons were learned and seem to be applied.

Becker, R. (2017, September 29). Trying to communicate after the hurricane: “It’s as if Puerto Rico doesn’t exist.” Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

Again, there is a hierarchy of needs. Ham radio operators are passing shelter lists via radioteletype on high frequency radio to a central American Red Cross collection point so the names can be collated and determinations can be made as to who is where. 50 people volunteered within 24 hours of American Red Cross making the request of the American Radio Relay League. Although I have a high-enough class license, I don't have enough experience operating radioteletype.

McCarthy, K. (2017, September 28). At last, someone’s taking Apple to task for, uh, not turning on iPhone FM radio chips. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

And the response to the FCC was that any FM radio chips in the iPhone just happened to not be connected to anything. They wouldn't work even with a firware change. No FM chips in the iPhone 7 or later.

Panzarino, M. (2017, September 28). Apple would like to remind the FCC that it can’t activate imaginary FM radios that iPhones don’t have. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

I tried this on my own Android phone and it isn't really that great. Whatever happened to having an actual radio that tunes the AM/FM dial?

Respaut, R., & Graham, D. (2017, September 28). With cell service crippled, Puerto Ricans look skyward for a signal. Reuters. Retrieved from

People are lining up to make 30 second calls to the mainland. Why? There are higher priorities at hand.

Puerto Rico seeks extension in key deadlines in bankruptcy case after Maria. (2017, September 26). Reuters. Retrieved from

Again, most disaster response authorities consolidated under the Stafford Act are loans. Puerto Rico is in the hole for $76 billion already. Action by the Congress would be required to have the federal government directly pay for a new power grid. Puerto Rico being bailed out financially would be unthinkable as the consequence would potentially be the loss of the current form of local government and the imposition of a revised form of governance.

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No, FEMA Isn't Santa Claus by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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