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Author: Sarah McMichael

Puerto Rico has the least safe water of any state or territory

After Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, finding and distributing drinkable water immediately became one of the islands’ residents main concerns. Lack of access to  relief supplies and donations after the storms, especially water, has been a controversial issue, since it was recently discovered that millions of water bottles were abandoned on a Puerto Rican airport tarmac and were never handed out to storm survivors. Although the hurricanes may have compounded this problem, having access to clean water is not a new worry for Puerto Rico’s residents, as the territory’s drinkable water was already deemed...

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The controversy over pension benefits of Catholic school teachers, in context

In the past few years, there have been many cases brought before the Supreme Court of the United States involving denials of pension plan payouts to beneficiaries of church-affiliated entities, especially cases involving Catholic Hospitals and their employees. The issue of pension plans is back in the news again, but this time, it concerns Catholic School pension plans in Puerto Rico. In 1974, a federal law titled “The Employee Retirement Income Security Act” (ERISA) was enacted in order to establish minimum standards that would help protect individuals who were beneficiaries of most voluntarily established private industry pension and health...

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Puerto Rico government facing difficulties dealing with Oversight Board

Puerto Rico has recently suffered the wrath of many economic woes, most which are tied to the territory’s budget shortfalls and overdue bills to creditors. As if the humanitarian crisis created by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017 wasn’t enough, the fiscal crisis is ongoing, as Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is going head-to-head against the Congressionally-mandated Financial Oversight and Management Board that was specifically created to help Puerto Rico deal with its bankruptcy issues. The notion of enacting fiscal control boards is a newer concept, but is becoming more typical. It has become commonplace that US cities under...

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US Virgin Islands set to rebuild power grid

When Hurricane Irma hit the US Virgin Islands in September, 2018, not only were thousands of homes destroyed, but 90% of St. Thomas’ power lines and 80% of its transformers were destroyed, thus affecting St. John residents as they are fed by St. Thomas’ power plant. The main issue concerning the power lines is that they were above ground, and when the storm’s 150-mph winds sheared the tops of every tree 10 feet off the ground, the lines went down as well. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands, approximately 55,000 customers of The Virgin Islands Water and...

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USVI Office of Management and Budget attempts to deny funding to nonprofits

The US Virgin Islands are still in the process of rebuilding infrastructure following hurricanes Maria and Irma, and this process is extremely difficult from a financial standpoint as the USVI government was already cash-strapped and involved in a major budget crisis before the storms even hit. Regardless of the monetary costs that arise after natural disasters, the human costs go beyond just fixing and constructing new bridges and roads, as rebuilding communities and relationships are paramount to the territory’s survival and recovery. Much of the immediate and long term human needs felt by families and individuals are tackled by...

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