President Trump declared the area a disaster zone and pledged his support. To this end, FEMA response teams arrived on the island to offer help. “You hear about the destruction, but honestly, until we get out here and see it firsthand, it’s hard to frame it all up,” said Mike Pruitt from FEMA’s Incident Support Command, speaking to USA Today. “It’s absolutely devastating to see what they’ve lost.”
Relief efforts in Puerto Rico were hindered slightly by the fact that just weeks earlier, similar storms had hit the USA. Hurricane Harvey had killed over 75 people in Texas, most of them dying in the fast-rising waters. Hurricane Irma, which devastated Florida, had an almost identical death toll. It was a terrible, terrible hurricane season.
Many people linked the level of devastation to the ongoing problem of climate change. “The short version is, climate change makes these very bad storms worse,” meteorologist Sean Sublette of Climate Central told CNN on September 19. “In the case of a really bad storm, climate change can make it totally disastrous or catastrophic.”