Water and electricity are still in short supply in Puerto Rico since hurricane Maria tore through the island on September 20th. In response to the lack of support from FEMA and the Trump administration, over twenty unions sent delegations to help rebuild the island.
Olivia Lynch, an emergency room nurse and part of the California Nurses Association and Registered Nurse Response Network, was part of the union contingent:
Olivia Lynch: “It’s important for Puerto Ricans to be treated like everyone else, and to say to them, ‘You’re not going to have electricity for six to nine months, and you don’t have a way of running the sewer pumps to make sure your water is clean, and your children will be out of school for god knows how long and maybe one day we’ll get enough aid to you fix the house being rained on daily with no roof on it’…it’s just unacceptable.”
Nurses helped address public health issues ranging from medications to a lack of clean water to widespread sanitation issues. Lynch noted her deep sense of solidarity with her fellow union travelers.
Olivia Lynch: “It was this incredible euphoria. We were all going for one purpose, for one thing: because we wanted to help someone else. I’ve always worked with nurses, and to work with the truck drivers, every day, “I got you, sis! What do you need? You’re the nurses, the nurses save lives!’ This feeling of you belong and we are one and we are here to do good in this world. That was a feeling that I hope I will feel again. That was absolutely incredible.”