The US has sent Usns Comfort, a Mercy class hospital ship to Puerto Rico. The island has been devastated by several hurricanes and flooding. In its time of need, the action by America will bring valuable relief.

Comfort for Puerto Rico

American aid for Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico is commendable. CBS News reports that the USNS Comfort set off from Virginia to the island on Friday. The devastation from Maria has engulfed the island. There is widespread flooding, no power, and little hope of quick restoration of power. There is the prospect of extended debt and bankruptcy.

The Guajataca dam cracked and unleashed lethal floods. In the face of this disaster, the sending of USNS Comfort to the storm hit territory is praiseworthy. It shows that the American people care.

What is the political position of Puerto Rico?

Aid to Puerto Rico in the face of Maria is important, because politically it is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Though the territory belongs to the US, it is not a part of the US from the point of view of the US Constitution revenue clauses. Hurricane Maria has struck devastation in the territory but the question remains. Should it remain a US territory, be a US state, or become an independent country? The 2017 referendum in Puerto Rico showed that 97% of those who voted chose statehood.

Apart from the referendum granting statehood, it requires the assent of the US Congress and presidential executive orders. The political process can take its time but relief efforts by the Federal Emergency Management and other groups are strained. The island desperately needs aid.

American help is timely

USNS Comfort is not only prepared to respond to the needs of people but also to provide hospitalization to those who are seriously ill.

The emergency services can provide short-term patient care to a large number of Maria hit patients. These are attended by trauma nurses and emergency service doctors. For those seriously ill, Comfort provides a range of medical specialists available 24 hours a day and can give top-level surgical treatment in Puerto Rico. Comfort is equipped and stocked to provide treatment to a range of patients, psychiatric therapy for those that have been mentally affected, and even life-saving short-term medical care. Comfort also has intensive care units that can save lives. The help sent by the United States is praiseworthy.