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Puerto Rico as a Cautionary Scenario

by Paul-Martin Foss

The people of Puerto Rico are facing a worst-case disaster scenario on a scale that would scare the daylights out of most Americans. Already damaged from Hurricane Irma’s journey through the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on the island left the entire island without power. Current estimates anticipate that it could be four to six months before electricity is restored.

Because of the lack of electricity, news from Puerto Rico has been slow to trickle out. But what has been reported is grim. Water and food supplies are running low, and those few who have generators are running out of fuel to run them.

Those who seek to buy supplies are finding out the hard way that credit cards and electronic payment methods are no good without electricity. Cash is king, but good luck finding any. Banks and ATM machines are running out, and you can guarantee that what little is circulating is being held back to purchase only the most vital supplies.

Aid shipments from the mainland United States are slowly making their way to Puerto Rico, but it will take months, if not years, for the island to recover. So what lessons can we learn to avoid the fate of Puerto Ricans?

  1. If you own a generator, make sure you have a way to fuel it. Multifuel generators may be more expensive, but you can still operate them when gasoline supplies run out.
  2. Stockpile water and non-perishable food. Especially when you know that a hurricane is on its way, there’s no excuse for not having 2-3 weeks worth of food and water on hand to make it through the aftermath.
  3. Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand. Credit cards won’t do you any good. If it isn’t physical, it isn’t money. Barter goods such as spare batteries could come in handy too.
  4. Be prepared to be on your own for weeks. You’ll be responsible for your own food, shelter, and medical care. It will be a while before the authorities are able to restore order, so make sure you can protect and provide for you and yours.

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