Wednesday Reading List: Recovering from Disasters of All Sorts

As cities throughout the United States continue to struggle with hurricane damage, Marva Hinton & Corey Mitchell of Education Week examine recovery efforts in Florida and Texas:

Schools may be open again in most parts of storm-ravaged Florida and Texas, but things are hardly back to normal as students and staff deal with cleanup, rebuilding, and the emotional disruption of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey ... Florida school officials also are girding for an influx of students displaced from Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, which devastated that island and shuttered a school system with some 700,000 students. Last week [Florida Governor Rick] Scott announced that the state’s online school system would accept 20,000 affected students living either in Puerto Rico or in Florida.

Speaking of Puerto Rico, the situation there continues to be an absolute emergency. Here's Frances Robles yesterday in The New York Times:

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, many sick people across the island remain in mortal peril. The government’s announcements each morning about the recovery effort are often upbeat, but beyond them are hidden emergencies. Seriously ill dialysis patients across Puerto Rico have seen their treatment hours reduced by 25 percent because the centers still lack a steady supply of diesel to run their generators. Less than half of Puerto Rico’s medical employees have reported to work in the weeks since the storm, federal health officials said. Hospitals are running low on medicine and high on patients, as they take in the infirm from medical centers where generators failed. A hospital in Humacao had to evacuate 29 patients last Wednesday — including seven in the intensive care unit and a few on the operating table — to an American military medical ship off the coast of Puerto Rico when a generator broke down.

The level of devastation on Puerto Rico is extraordinary, and it's hard to avoid thinking that the federal government is getting away with a lackluster response because of the island's status as a territory. You should call your senators and congresspeople to ask them to put pressure on FEMA to extend the timeline during which residents can file disaster claims; almost nobody on the island has power, so filing claims is virtually impossible for most citizens.

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Speaking of unresolved disasters, Nathalie Baptiste of Mother Jones reports that another Michigan official will be charged with a crime in relation to the Flint water crisis:

On Monday, the Michigan attorney general’s office announced that Dr. Eden Wells, who was the state’s chief medical officer, would be charged with involuntary manslaughter for her role in the Flint water crisis. In June, she was charged with obstruction of justice after she allegedly attempted misled investigators and tried to stop an investigation into the crisis. She is the sixth Flint official to be charged with involuntary manslaughter ... In 2014, emergency city managers appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River. Because the river had not been treated properly, the water began leaching lead from lead pipes outfitted in homes across the city.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the water in Flint - after three years - is almost back to acceptable levels for human consumption. It still stuns me that we allowed this to happen on American soil in the 21st century.

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Finally today, in the November print edition of The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan turns in a long look at the death of a fraternity member at Penn State University. While student deaths an an unfortunate - and all too frequent - consequence of binge drinking and fraternity culture, Flanagan explains why this case is different:

Tim Piazza’s case, however, has something we’ve never seen before. This time the dead student left a final testimony, a vivid, horrifying, and inescapable account of what happened to him and why. The house where he was so savagely treated had been outfitted with security cameras, which recorded his long ordeal. Put together with the texts and group chats of the fraternity brothers as they delayed seeking medical treatment and then cleaned up any traces of a wild party—and with the 65-page report released by a Centre County grand jury, which recommended 1,098 criminal charges against 18 former members and against the fraternity itself—the footage reveals a more complete picture of certain dark realities than we have previously had.

It's a dark and troubling read, which you should take some time to absorb.

Have a great day ...