TELLING STORIES, CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

Disaster capitalism is a disaster

in Crisis & Natural Disasters by

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), gave more than $30 million in contracts to newly formed corporation, Bronze Star, to deliver emergency tarps and plastic sheeting for building repairs in post-hurricane devastated Puerto Rico.

They never did.

FEMA canceled their contractual relationship with Bronze Star, and said that money was not meted to the company. Now Puerto Ricans must brace for more days of exposure to the elements; furthering mold and other damage to homes, as well as exposure to health hazards.

There seems to be a continuous theme in regards to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, and that is to give little regard to over 3 million people still living in dire conditions from two major hurricanes thrashing the island within one week in late summer – disaster capitalism – or profiting from disaster and tragedy by exploiting the people suffering.

Whitefish Energy was given a $300 million contract to restore Puerto Rico’s power. Problem was, it was a 2-person firm based in Montana. Photo Credit: Fre Sonneveld

Contracts and companies fail to provide adequate support or aid in Puerto Rico, but they still receive lucrative payoffs.

In October, Puerto Rico’s electric authority were questioned for its decision to give Whitefish Energy Holdings, a two-person, Montana firm, a $300 million contract to restore power on the island. The company, tasked with building more than 2,500 miles of power lines and three or four transmissions were cut from deal. Before they left, they started to make repairs that have since gone into disrepair.

FEMA faces harsh, and justly deserved criticism in their lackluster recovery response after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, leaving its infrastructure in shambles. The combination of FEMA and the U.S. military’s delayed aid and the fallen infrastructure resulted in a humanitarian crisis with limited food, water, power and phone service.

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