Report: Puerto Rico Aid Supplies Trapped at San Juan Port

September 28, 2017 3:39 pm Last Updated: September 28, 2017 3:39 pm

Aid supplies to Puerto Rico are trapped at a port in the capital, San Juan, according to reports on Thursday.

They’re trapped because there’s a shortage of truckers, trucks, and devastated infrastructure after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

Jose Ayala, the Crowley shipping company’s vice president in Puerto Rico, told CNN that there are at least 10,000 containers of supplies, including food, water, and medicine.

Only 20 percent of truck drivers in the U.S. commonwealth have reported back to work, said a representative for Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. There’s also a diesel fuel shortage and a number of roads that have been blocked by floods and other hurricane-created damages.

An historic shanty town overlooks the ocean at the San Juan National Historic Site in Old San Juan. Authorities in Puerto Rico are urging residents of poorly made houses to evacuate as Hurricane Maria sets a collision course with the U.S. island territory. (Eric Pancer/Wikimedia Commons)

Contacting drivers is an issue due to downed cell towers.

“When we say we that we don’t have truck drivers, we mean that we have not been able to contact them,” Rosselló told the network.

On Thursday, the White House authorized 10-day waiver of the Jones Act, which is a federal law that limits shipping to U.S. ports by foreign vessels.

Ayala said that only about 4 percent of containers that were sent to San Juan’s port have been dispatched from there

People wait in line for aid items to be handed out in San Juan. (Reuters/Alvin Baez)

“The problem has been with the logistics, the parts of the supply chain that move the cargo from our terminal to the shelves or to the tables of the people in Puerto Rico,” Ayala said on Wednesday. “This hurricane was catastrophic.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Reuters that 10,000 federal government relief workers were now in Puerto Rico, including 7,200 troops, and that 44 of the island’s 69 hospitals were now fully operational.

Overall, the island is likely to need far more than $30 billion in long-term aid from the U.S. government for disaster relief and rebuilding efforts following Maria, a senior Republican congressional aide said on Thursday.

As CNBC reported, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is now working to reduce the fuel distribution disruption. On Wednesday afternoon, at least a dozen fuel trucks departed the Crowley shipping terminal in San Juan.

The Department of Defense said it will aid FEMA’s efforts to stabilize the situation on the island.

“Gasoline is beginning to flow to gas stations, which, despite rationing, are unable to remain open for more than a few hours at a time,” according to the Pentagon.

Reuters contributed to this report.