A week after Hurricane Maria devasted the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, desperately needed supplies are sitting at a port in San Juan because there are reportedly no truck drivers to transport the containers to the victims.
— Rafael Romo (@RafaelRomoCNN) September 27, 2017
Last week, Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, causing massive power outages and infrastructure damage. In the days since the storm, fuel shortages are rampant and drinking water has become hard to find. “People are starting to die“, according to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
At least 16 people have already died because of Hurricane Maria.
Thousands Of Containers Of Hurricane Relief Supplies Sit At Port
Earlier today, CBS news reporter David Begnaud posted a video on his Twitter account showing thousands of shipping containers full of desperately needed supplies sitting in a port in San Juan.
3,000 shipping containers packed with food water & medicene have been sitting at the port in Puerto Rico since Saturday pic.twitter.com/LJ0ETpmnOf
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 27, 2017
In the video, Begnaud confirms that the containers are full of hurricane relief supplies but says that the Puerto Rican government has not been able to reach the truck drivers needed to move the containers.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 27, 2017
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló says that he’s begging anyone who can legally drive a commercial truck or bus to come forward to help to distribute the supplies. He said, “If you are a bus driver and have equipment, just come to where the diesel is being dispensed, come where the food is being dispensed in the ports. We are making every effort to make sure everybody knows this.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 27, 2017
Damage To Roads, Diesel Shortage, Communication Breakdown
Damage to the roads, lack of diesel fuel, and damage to computer systems are all contributing to the crisis, breaking down communication between the government of Puerto Rico and the truck drivers who are needed to move supplies.
Diana Emmanuelli, a Hurricane Maria evacuee, told WGN9 that there are numerous issues which are preventing the distribution of supplies: “The chain of custody down there right now isn’t being determined as quickly as it should be because of the lack of communication.”
Emmanuelli also says that the government is taxing the donated supplies and searching through the supplies box by box.
Jose Ayala of Crowley Maritime lists the challenges facing those trying to move the containers:
It’s pretty ugly out there…. There is damage to the trucking infrastructure, to the distributors, to the supermarkets, to the roads. And then, if your infrastructure is not so damaged, and you can get a driver to the truck, there is no fuel to move the equipment … We have been talking to truck drivers and they say if it is challenging around San Juan now, imagine driving a truck with 40-foot container attached, it’s impossible.
US Truckers Volunteer To Help — But How?
Many people in the trucking industry have already offered to volunteer their services, though it isn’t clear how one goes about it.
I have a CDL is there a need for truck drivers? Ill volunteer my time. I live in NY if you arrange a flight I have housing @ricardorossello
— Puerto Rico Love (@PortoRicanRasta) September 27, 2017
@DavidBegnaud I have a few truck drivers that are going to Puerto Rico to help drive. Where do they go to when they get there.
— Victor Cuebas Sr. (@victorcuebas) September 27, 2017
— M&C Venture Group (@MC_Venture_Grp) September 27, 2017