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Two Weeks After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Still Needs Lots Of Help

While Donald Trump went on to attack San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz via Twitter this weekend, the situation in Puerto Rico continues to be a desperate one, despite some improvement.

USA Today reports that obtaining food, water, or gas is a daylong goal. Each mission to get any of these things can take several hours.

CREDIT: Ricardo Arduengo / Getty

“Tomorrow we’re going to try to find gasoline,” Michelle Rebollo told USA Today. “Then, we’ll try to get money. Each one is a whole day.”

Various reporters and celebrities on the ground in Puerto Rico are saying that people remain without running water and basic necessities.

“I haven’t seen any help and we’re running out of water,” Pedro Gonzalez, told a local ABC news affiliate, adding that he has a daughter with Down syndrome and has decided to move to Louisiana. “We’re getting out of here.”

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said that 714 gas stations now have fuel, but USA Today reports that several gas stations they have seen are either closed or say “No hay gasolina.”

Rosselló also said that 47 percent of water and sewer service is working, but added that the number isn’t a certain because 1,400 generators are powering the water services. And because they’re without power, the generators can stop working from time to time, but Rosselló says “general progress is being made.”

Rosselló also said that a quarter of the island should regain power next month.

While there is food and water finally in Puerto Rico, after Trump waived the Jones Act (for now), the items are not being distributed to areas in need.

Yulín Cruz tweeted that they have supplies coming in, but can’t distribute because the roads are not clear.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, who is working in Puerto Rico along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), says one of the worst problems is the roads. “The roads are not clear on the outside of the island, and we’re slowly working our way in,” Buchanan said to PBS. “But we obviously need to get all the roads cleared so we can get supplies to people who desperately need them. Sometimes we don’t know what’s going to happen until the storm actually hits, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

President Trump falsely said that all buildings had now been inspected and cleared.

The president and First Lady Melania are expected to be in Puerto Rico tomorrow.

Click here for a list of charities and crowdfunding campaigns that are helping people in Puerto Rico.

READ: The Mayor Of San Juan Let The Trump Administration Have It In A Press Conference

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Political Chaos Returns To Puerto Rico As The Unelected Governor Faces Investigations And Calls For Her Resignation

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Political Chaos Returns To Puerto Rico As The Unelected Governor Faces Investigations And Calls For Her Resignation

Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s government is once again in the headlines, as the governor faces accusations of obstruction of justice. In just the latest in a string of crises – both natural and man made – the governor is fighting back claims that she fired an official who was investigating her failed response to a series of earthquakes that recently struck the island.

Gov. Vasquez has denied any wrongdoing but protests are already forming across the island, asking for her resignation.

Puerto Rico once again faces political turmoil as the island’s unelected governor is under investigation.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vasquez is facing allegations that she obstructed justice and calls from the main opposition party for a legislative probe and a possible impeachment process. All of this stems from a report from the newspaper El Nuevo Día, which said that hours before being fired by Vazquez, the now former Justice Secretary Dennise Longo had recommended the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to look into the governor and her close associates.

According to the paper, Longo made a recommendation to the island’s Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor’s Panel to look into alleged irregularities in how aid earmarked to January’s earthquake relief efforts were distributed.

According to the Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, that recommendation was what caused the governor to ask for the justice minister’s resignation.

Since she appears to have fired someone who was looking into her administration, several members of the opposition party are leveling obstruction claims against Vasquez. It wasn’t immediately clear if Rep. Johnny Méndez, leader of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, who is a member of Ms. Vázquez’s party, would grant permission for such an investigation. He tweeted Tuesday that he would listen to the governor’s news conference before making any decisions.

“Our people demand total and absolute transparency in the public function. Puerto Rico doesn’t deserve less than that,” Mr. Méndez wrote.

The governor said she is ready to face justice if the case involving emergency supplies has merit. “I have nothing to fear,” Ms. Vázquez said during a lengthy news conference.

She’s accused of firing a justice official who was investigation her cabinet.

Credit: Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

The fired official, Dennise Longo, issued a statement saying the governor and other officials are targets of an investigation that began earlier this year involving the alleged mismanagement of supplies slated for Puerto Ricans affected by a series of strong earthquakes. Ms. Longo, who didn’t provide any details of the case, said she had referred that matter for investigation the day she was forced out.

Ms. Vázquez denied Ms. Longo was removed in retribution for the probe, saying that she didn’t know she was being investigated. She said that Ms. Longo was asked to quit because of purported interference in an unrelated federal probe into possible Medicaid fraud.

The new political crisis comes months after the island erupted into protests that forced the previous governor to resign.

Before Ms. Vasquez became governor, she served as the island’s justice secretary in the administration of Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló faced several scandals of his own – the failed response to Hurricane Maria and a texting scandal that revealed sexist and homophobic messages from his administration.

Giant protests occurred around the island for weeks, demanding #RickyRenuncio. Following Rosselló’s resignation, few administration members wanted th role as governor – in fact, Vasquez herself said she didn’t want the job – but the island’s Supreme Court ruled that she should be sworn in as new governor.

This current political crisis is just the latest in a string of major crises that have rocked the territory.

Credit: Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

Puerto Rico has long faced political turmoil and natural disasters. However, much of the current crises can be traced back to the failed response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island. Then, earlier this year, the island was struck by a series of major earthquakes that left much of the island in rubble.

A week later, a 43,000 square foot warehouse in the southern city of Ponce was discovered filled with filled with supplies, including thousands of cases of water, believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017. Vazquez quickly fired the island’s director of emergency management and called for an investigation. Food, water, diapers, baby formula, cots and tarps were all stored at the warehouse.

Puerto Rico Has Declared A State Of Emergency And Left Residents Without Access To Running Water

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Puerto Rico Has Declared A State Of Emergency And Left Residents Without Access To Running Water

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Another crisis is unfolding on the island of Puerto Rico, as a severe drought grips the territory and forces the government to take drastic measures. After a series of major earthquakes and hurricanes, Puerto Rico is now suffering through one of its worst droughts in history.

Water is scarce. And the government is implementing rationing measures that will leave hundreds of thousands of residents without regular access to running water.

Gov. Wanda Vazquez has announced a state of emergency as the government begins rationing water.

Puerto Rico is once again in the headlines for an ongoing crisis that is affecting hundreds of thousands of island residents. On Monday, Puerto Rico’s governor declared a state of emergency as a worsening drought creeps across the territory.

Starting July 2, nearly 140,000 customers, including some in the capital of San Juan, will be without water for 24 hours every other day as part of strict rationing measures. Puerto Rico’s utilities company urged people to not excessively stockpile water because it would worsen the situation, and officials asked that everyone use masks and maintain social distancing if they seek water from one of 23 water trucks set up across the island.

“We’re asking people to please use moderation,” said Doriel Pagán, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority, adding that she could not say how long the rationing measures will last.

The order signed also prohibits certain activities in most municipalities including watering gardens during daylight hours, filling pools and using a hose or non-recycled water to wash cars. Those caught face fines ranging from $250 for residents to $2,500 for industries for a first violation.

Puerto Rico is experiencing a drought ranging from moderate to severe in some parts of the territory.

Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of last week more than 26% of the island is experiencing a severe drought and another 60% is under a moderate drought. Water rationing measures affecting more than 16,000 clients were imposed this month in some communities in the island’s northeast region.

The island’s access to water is complicated by the fact that many residents rely on a system of reservoirs in Puerto Rico for water. However, due to budget constraints, several have not been dredged for years, leaving sediment to collect and allowing the excess loss of water. 

Aside from drought, the island is still recovering from a pair of deadly earthquakes and Hurricane Maria.

Credit: Eric Rojas / Getty Images

Over the last few years, Puerto Rico has suffered a one-two punch that has left much of the island’s infrastructure in shambles. In fact, Vasquez cited the lasting impacts of the December and January earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic as exacerbating the water crisis.

The current water crisis has threatened the safety and wellbeing of Puerto Ricans. The earthquakes also disproportionately impacted the southern region where the drought is most severe. Vázquez also extended the coronavirus curfew for the whole island, which began in March, for three more weeks, making it the longest continuous curfew in the United States so far.