Trump Brings attention to Puerto Rico and claims it is in “Deep Trouble.”
This Hurricane Season has caused massive amounts of damage to the gulf from Texas to Puerto Rico. The island territory of Puerto Rico is having a tough time getting state aid compared to Texas and Florida. Considering the only means to provide them aide is by ship or plane.
There are some key differences that are causing Puerto Rico to be in worse condition surrounding their Economic state and already failing infrastructure. Currently, many Puerto Ricans are struggling to get water, fuel, food, and medicine. Many still remain without power which is not expected to return for up to a month.
Trump has had long discussions with the Governor of Puerto Rico and supplies and support are being sent their way. Trump originally was intending to travel down to Puerto Rico at the end of last week but was delayed after the trajectory of Maria was determined.
Energy Department crews are working in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, coordinating with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, FEMA and a team from the New York Power Authority, among others. An eight-member team from the Western Area Power Authority, an Energy Department agency, assisted with initial damage assessments in Puerto Rico and has been redeployed to St. Thomas. A spokeswoman said additional responders would go to Puerto Rico as soon as transportation to the hurricane-ravaged island could be arranged.
Zinke’s department oversees the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with other territories.
The federal response to Maria faces obvious logistical challenges beyond those in Texas or Florida. Supplies must be delivered by air or sea, rather than with convoys of trucks.
FEMA said it had more than 700 staff on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were helping coordinate a federal response that now includes more than 10,000 federal personnel spread across the two Caribbean archipelagos.
In Puerto Rico, federal workers supplied diesel to fuel generators at hospitals and delivered desperately needed food and water to hard-hit communities across the island. Cargo flights are bringing in additional supplies, and barges loaded with more goods are starting to arrive in the island’s ports.
San Juan’s international airport handled nearly 100 arrivals and departures on Sunday, including military and relief operations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Pentagon dispatched the Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which provided helicopters and Marines to help with the relief effort onshore.
However, the Trump administration said Monday it would not waive federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo as it had following Harvey and Irma. The administration said it will continue to enforce the Jones Act, which requires that goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagged ships.
Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said the agency had concluded there were already enough US-flagged vessels available.
On Capitol Hill, congressional leaders were talking about how to pay for it all. Puerto Rico was already struggling with steep financial and economic challenges before Maria made landfall.
Last year, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi joined with President Barack Obama to help recession-ravaged Puerto Rico deal with its debt crisis. After the devastating storm, Puerto Ricans will now be eligible to benefit from the same pots of federal emergency disaster aid and rebuilding funds available to residents in Texas and Florida.
Lawmakers approved a $15 billion hurricane relief packaged after Harvey hit Texas, but billions more will likely now be needed to respond to Maria.
Ryan said Monday that Congress will ensure the people of Puerto Rico “have what they need.”