Fox News correspondent at-large Geraldo Rivera painted a terrifying portrait of the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico while reporting live from the San Juan airport.
“It is a mess,” Rivera told Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. “It’s jammed, the main terminal is jammed, Shep, with people desperate to get out of Puerto Rico at the urging of the governor, Ricardo Rosselló. He says anybody that doesn’t have to be here should leave. The problem is there’ve been so few flights out.”
“To me, it’s almost mind-boggling how slow the relief effort has been,” Rivera admitted. “There was one relief flight all day yesterday.”
In 2005, the New Orleans Time-Pacayune described Geraldo Rivera as “passion personified” for sounding the alarm of President George W. Bush’s bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.
“That glaring exposure of the race and class divisions in this country was never, in my very long experience, more clear, more graphic, more hurtful to me, than it was in New Orleans,” Rivera explained in 2005. “And anyone who says otherwise is either full of sh*t or has a political agenda. They either weren’t there, didn’t see it with their own eyes or they have as an agenda blame-shifting.”
Though Rivera wasn’t as impassioned about the response this time, he was still critical.
“It just doesn’t seem that the pedal has been put to the metal yet if you get my meaning,” Rivera explained. “This is a catastrophe with food supplies short, but with no water and no power, everyone is using generators — the generators need fuel.”
“It’s very melancholy and depressing, you want very much this relief machine to get up and going,” Rivera explained.
Lack of electrical power and running water has impacts upon the functionality of the sewer system.
“Imagine if you live in a 12-story condo and you have no water and electricity: every time you flush the toilet, you need a gallon of water. Where the hell you going to get it?” Rivera wondered. “The situation is getting more and more dire.”
“My fear is that people don’t recognize this is a slowly unfolding human catastrophe, a disaster from one end to the island to the other,” Rivera worried.
Rivera identified power and cellular communication as the two immediate priorities.
“You need ships full of generators, that’s what you need,” Rivera explained. “People want to send ice, the ice will melt. They want to send food, the food will spoil. The old-timers with their medicine, they need it three times a day, they need it refrigerated.”
“They don’t need good wishes, even money doesn’t buy it,” Rivera argued. “What we need here is to get the island back on the grid, it’s in the dark ages now, Shep.”
Although Rivera was not as critical as he was in New Orleans, he did invoke Katrina.
“My point here, Shep, is that this is an extremely dire situation that unless it’s going to become the kind of screwed up response that Katrina was, we have to see practical results and the practical results are: put some people back online, get some temporary cell towers up.”