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3 weeks ago · by · 10 comments

Hurricane Maria Leaves Puerto Rico Devastated

 

 

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane, one of the most powerful hurricane to strike the island in nearly a century. It destroyed the island’s entire electrical grid and caused severe flooding and widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.  Still recovering from Hurricane Irma two weeks prior, approximately 80,000 remained without power as Maria approached.

Immediately after Maria passed, the entire island was without power and 70,000 people were ordered to evacuate the areas around the Guajataca Dam after storm damage put it at risk of collapsing.  More than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory remain without adequate food, water and fuel.  Flights in and out of Puerto Rico are still severely restricted.  Hospitals struggling to provide care are running on generators with limited access to electricity, no running water and dwindling supplies.  At least 24 people have been confirmed dead.

Six days after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Governor Ricardo Roselló pleaded for more government aid in order to avert a total humanitarian catastrophe.  Officials said 1,360 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers were down, and 85% of above-ground and underground phone and internet cables were knocked out.

Thousands of tourists and residents who have been stranded in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria devastated the island nation were evacuated on cruise ships headed towards Fort Lauderdale.  Royal Caribbean cancelled voyages on its Adventure of the Seas ship to free it up for rescue missions.  Around 1,700 evacuees were picked up from San Juan before it headed to St Croix and St Thomas to pick up another 2,000 before making its way to Florida.  Norwegian Cruises has done the same as well as transporting supplies to affected islands.

Large amounts of federal aid began moving into Puerto Rico but distribution has stalled efforts.  Many of the island’s roads remain impassable because of debri.  There is also a shortage of drivers to help distribute food and supplies to some of the hardest-hit remote regions.  Port of San Juan held 9,500 shipping containers filled with supplies but with only 20% of the island’s truckers reporting back to work since Maria hit and a diesel fuel shortage- distribution has left many without any relief since the storm hit.

The Pentagon, which has troops working on disaster relief in Texas and Florida, promised to boost the number of troops in Puerto Rico from the current 2,500 to as many as 5,000 in the next several days. The United States currently has 16 Navy and Coast Guard ships operating near Puerto Rico and 10 more are on the way, said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long. One of those vessels is USS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship.

 

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