SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello asked the US Congress on Tuesday to immediately approve an aid package to ease the critical situation the island is going through following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
“We need Congress to take action so we can have an aid package that is real for the American citizens that live in Puerto Rico and that is flexible so that we can take immediate action,” Rossello said during a Tuesday morning interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Rossello said he had talked on the phone with US President Donald Trump and that he hoped to speak with him again this Tuesday to ask for his continued collaboration and that he recognize the desperate times people are going through in Puerto Rico, which Hurricane Irma left without a power grid or phone service.
“We need more help. We need more help with resources. We need more help with people being deployed so that we can get logistical support elsewhere,” Rossello said, observing what an exceptional situation Irma left in its wake, unprecedented in the history of Puerto Rico.
As for fuel supplies, the governor said the problem is really one of distribution, since there is plenty of gasoline and diesel on the island, but the difficulty is getting it to the service stations where it’s needed.
Rossello noted that in some cases the problem has been that gas stations haven’t dared to open due to the risk of vandalism and the desperation of the people lining up for miles (kilometers) around the stations that do open.
He said that close to 90 tankers loaded with fuel set out Tuesday from the distribution centers of oil companies operating on the island to deposit the fuel at service stations, of which about 450 are now back in business.
As for water, Rossello said that 45 percent of the population is now receiving water from the state-run Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA).
With regard to the telephone service, he acknowledged that the situation is unfortunately not so optimistic, since the lack of telecommunications is generalized, despite the phone companies’ all-out efforts.
The governor said that as for security in the streets, he as every hope the situation will improve progressively, given that many of the 13,000 police officers usually on duty have not yet been able to show up at their assigned posts due to the communications breakdown.