Next week will mark six months since Puerto Rico has been without power. According to Think Progress, Puerto Rico is suffering the longest blackout in U.S. history following Hurricane Maria, with 10 percent (roughly 300,000 people) of the island remaining in the dark.
"We are the forgotten people," resident Belen Santiago told CNN during a recent investigative report, chronicling the deaths of the Puerto Rican people believed to be linked to Hurricane Maria. "It's like we don't exist."
According to the Wunderground, Hurricane Maria caused approximately $100 billion in damage to the island, which makes it a catastrophy only second to that of Hurricane Katrina ($161 billion). President Trump and Congress passed a bill to provide a $23 billion aid package back in February, which has been largely deemed inadequate by Puerto Rican officials, the New York Times reports.
Puerto Rico officials are criticizing the Trump administration for neglecting the U.S. territory due to its lack of Congressional representation.
"If we were a state, the response certainly would have been a lot quicker," noted Omar Marrero, director of Puerto Rico's Central Recovery and Reconstruction Office, who claimed that the island has only received $1.27 billion for its federal assistance nutrition program and $430 million to help repair public infrastructure out of the total approved package.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin puts the blame on Puerto Rico, saying its officials' requests are unreasonable.
"I can assure you we have a team at Treasury that stands ready to lend them money right away," Mnuchin said. "We are not holding this up."
Taking matters into their own hands, Akon and French Montana plan to headline a Hurricane Maria benefit concert called "Power to the People," in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on On March 18. The duo will be joined by Busta Rhymes, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Lupe Fiasco, Jeremih, B.o.B. and Black Thought and more.