In the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria, 1.5 million people in Puerto Rico are without clean drinking water. This number of people accounts for 44% of the island’s total population.
A report by the Department of Defense indicated that, “80% of the transmission system and 100% of the distribution system.” It also revealed that only 11 of Puerto Rico’s 69 hospitals had power or generator fuel. As per a report by CNN, San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz indicated that two individuals in intensive care have died due to a lack of power at their respective hospitals.
Executive director of San Juan’s San Jorge Children’s Hospital Domingo Cruz Vivaldi stated that his facility was in a “crisis right now” over fuel. “The hospital is needing diesel every day — 2,000 gallons a day,” said Vivaldi. “Yesterday, we ran out of diesel at 6 a.m. and we were without electricity at the hospital from 6 a.m. through 2 p.m. Eight hours without electricity.”
The Department of Defense indicated that crews were working Tuesday to restore power to hospitals via generators, and eight Puerto Rican airports were either open or operating with some level of restriction. A dam which many believed to be at risk of breaking due to the storm is “intact but in need of reinforcement to ensure stability.”
At a news conference on Tuesday, FEMA director Brock Long indicated that the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship which can be deployed in times of disaster, is being sent to the island. Even Hillary Clinton is stepping in, urging Donald Trump to send the Comfort to Puerto Rico.
President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens. https://t.co/J2FVg4II0n
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 24, 2017
As the US Virgin Islands were affected by Maria as well, the federal government is sending help to restore power and water there as well.
According to Brock Long, FEMA has already sent 6 million liters of water to Puerto Rico but was unspecific about how the water will be distributed to the island’s affected citizens. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello tweeted that the US National Guard is touring the island to distribute the water.
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) September 26, 2017
Long also said that the level of devastation on the island was on a scale that the United States has not seen “in a very, very long time, if ever.” He elaborated with,
“You have to remember, not only did Irma come through and create quite a bit of damage and destruction that we were working to repair, but Maria was one mile away from being a Category 5 storm, one of the strongest storms that Puerto Rico has ever seen since the 20s. And let’s face it, the infrastructure is weak and there were no building codes. So there’s a lot of devastation.”