Urge the FCC to Investigate the Communications Crisis in Puerto Rico
The ability to communicate is a life-and-death issue, especially during a disaster.
It’s been approximately one year since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and there’s still so much we don’t know about how our government and telecom companies prepared for and responded to the crisis.
We need to learn more about the investment and policy decisions made by telecom companies and the government throughout the years that resulted in a communications network that couldn’t possibly withstand a major hurricane. The lack of resilient communications tools contributed to the death toll by leaving people on the island unable to call for help. And somewhere between 3,000–5,000 people died as a result of all of this.1
One year later we’re in the midst of another hurricane season, and communications networks in Puerto Rico have yet to fully recover. Parts of Puerto Rico still have intermittent internet and phone service.2 This is not what an “incredible, unsung success” (Trump’s words) looks like.
Puerto Ricans deserve better. We cannot allow this administration to forget or trivialize one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history. Puerto Ricans deserve a comprehensive examination that fully explores why the communications infrastructure failed, and that properly evaluates efforts to restore and improve service.
We’re calling on the FCC to appoint an independent commission to examine the causes of the communications failure in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and to develop recommendations on how the U.S. government can prevent such failures in the future.
This is an outrage that we can never allow to happen again: Tell the FCC to do its job and fully investigate the causes of the communications crisis in Puerto Rico.
1. “Ascertainment of the Estimated Excess Mortality from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico,” Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, 2018: https://bit.ly/2wwqEqF; “Mortality in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2018: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1803972
2. “Puerto Rico Unveils New Emergency Preparations After Maria,” Associated Press, Sept. 11, 2018: https://apnews.com/b6651a23cc51481497f7f64eafc4bf78