Puerto Rican officials are urging the federal government to speed up relief efforts in response to the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Maria last week.
3.4 million U.S citizens live in Puerto Rico and according to a report by the Department of Defense, 44 percent of them (appx.1.5 million people) still don’t have access to clean drinking water. On Tuesday Puerto Rico’s power authority said it had restored electricity to two big hospitals in San Juan, but 1 of 69 hospitals on the island still doesn’t have power or fuel.
CNN reported that many of the hospitals were running “dangerously low” on medical supplies.
It could be between four to six weeks before power is restored to the majority of the island.
According to a report released by the Department of Energy on Monday, just about all of the island’s 1.57 million electricity customers still didn’t have power.
Satellite imagery from the NOAA shows the effect of the power outages in Puerto Rico. With the exception of a few generators, the entire island has gone dark. The first photo shows what the island looked like from space in July, and the second shows what it looks like post–Hurricane Maria.
According to the American Public Power Association nearly 55 percent of the island’s transmission towers have been destroyed. Officials say it could be anywhere from four to six months before the power is restored to the island, which means without power even more people will be forced to move to the mainland U.S for safety.
The lack of medical care is pushing Puerto Rico to the brink of a humanitarian crisis San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said.
On Tuesday Cruz told CBS News, “People are starting to die already. People are really dying. I’ve put them in the ambulances when they’re gasping for air.”
“We are finding dialysis patients that have not been able to contact their providers. We are having to transport them in near-death conditions,” Cruz told CNN. “We are finding people whose oxygen tanks are running out, because our small generators now don’t have any diesel, and disabled people, they live alone and can’t just walk somewhere.”
The hurricane destroyed a huge portion of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. On top of losing power and water, the storm wiped out cell service across the island.
Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez told the AP that the hospital in his town was over capacity and near collapse. “Hysteria is starting to spread,” he said. “We need someone to help us immediately,”
Gov. Ricardo Rossello asked for mainland Americans to remember that the people struggling to survive in Puerto Rico are also US citizens He tweeted a copy of his statement directly to Speaker Paul Ryan.