Medicine

Fuel Imports, Distribution in Puerto Rico Starts to Unclog

Fuel Imports, Distribution in Puerto Rico Starts to Unclog

Millions of individuals on the US territory are in desperate need of food, water and medical items, and many stores have yet to restock their shelves since before Hurricane Irma, the system that hit Puerto Rico just days before Maria. Case in point: While thousands of shipping containers are already in the Port of San Juan, there are not enough truck drivers to haul the supplies, not enough fuel to gas up the trucks they do have, and a large portion of the island's roads are impassable. Mr. Rosselló said that the Defense Department had increased its footprint on Puerto Rico to 6,400 people, from roughly 4,600 two days earlier, with more coming, and that other federal agencies were also sending more staff to aid in the island's recovery from Hurricane Maria, which smashed through the island on September 20.

Federal and state officials have said there is enough diesel on the island, but it too has been hard to distribute.

A communication breakdown over the delivery of hurricane relief left shipping containers with the needed supplies sitting at the Port of San Juan for days after Hurricane Maria thrashed Puerto Rico last week. Even contacting drivers is a problem because cell towers are still down.

The 10-day waiver from the shipping law - which requires American-made and -operated vessels to transport cargo between USA ports - goes into effect immediately.

But the waiver is likely to only help somewhat, as containers of supplies still need to be delivered from the island's ports.

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But as Ayala has indicated, shipping companies already have aid and supplies either waiting at the port to be delivered - or held up at ports on the U.S. mainland.

The Port Authority of NY and New Jersey is also preparing to deploy emergency personnel to Puerto Rico to assist in the coordinated recovery efforts.

But if fuel was readily available, Alvarez said, goods could be efficiently delivered around the island and generators would reliably function, resolving numerous territory's most pressing concerns. Jose Ayala, vice president for Puerto Rico services at the Crowley shipping company, told the paper that post-Hurricane Maria, "there is damage to the trucking infrastructure" that normally moves the goods from the port to supermarkets and stores. "This hurricane was catastrophic".

Del Valle notes that although the Puerto Rican government says that gas and diesel are available people still must wait at least nine hours in line at gas stations to potentially get any fuel.

Manteiga, who works for a tourism firm, said she's running low on cash, too. "We have not reached communication so that they can know that we've released all of the red tapes".


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