Nearly 10,000 containers full of medicine, food, water and other life-saving supplies for hurricane victims is sitting idly at the Port of San Juan in Puerto Rico due to a lack of truck drivers, a fuel shortage, and infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria last week, CNN reported Thursday.
A representative for Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN that it has been difficult to contact drivers due to downed cell service.
He said that just 20 percent of truck drivers on the U.S. territory have reported back to work after the hurricane, adding to the backlog in delivering the growing mountain of critical supplies at the port.
An estimated 97% of the U.S. territory’s 3.4 million residents remain without power and about half of the island does not have water.
The US military is set to send another 2,000 to 3,000 troops to Puerto Rico in the upcoming days, military officials tell CNN.
Shipping company Crowley said it was only able to dispatch about 120 of 3,000 supply-filled containers it had delivered to the island due to lack of truck drivers and fuel shortages.
“The problem has been with the logistics, the parts of the supply chain that move the cargo from our terminal to the shelves or to the tables of the people in Puerto Rico,” said Jose Ayala, Crowley’s vice president in Puerto Rico. “This hurricane was catastrophic.”
After days of criticism, the White House announced on Thursday that President Trump has agreed to waive the Jones Act, temporarily lifting shipping restrictions on Puerto Rico. The 10-day waiver from the shipping law is unlikely to help the island’s residents in the short term until the delivery supply chain can be restored.
The retired lieutenant general who was credited with turning around the government’s disastrous initial response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by then-President George W. Bush, joined a growing chorus of criticism from Congress about the Trump administration’s bungled response to Hurricane Maria.
“It’s kind of like Katrina: We got it. We got it. Oh, shit, send in the cavalry,” Russel Honore told Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday. “This is a hit on White House decision making.”
Honore said the White House should have sent more people and equipment to the island in advance of the monster hurricane, and the Department of Defense should be given far greater authority over the response.
“We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and in Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico,” Trump said Tuesday of his administration’s Hurricane Maria relief efforts. “But the difference is this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. It’s a big ocean, it’s a very big ocean. And we’re doing a really good job.”