Eighty-five percent of Puerto Rico is still without power after the U.S. was rocked bymore than two weeks ago. There are at least 19,000 federal civilian or military personnel assisting on the ground.
Around 77 percent of Puerto Rico’s grocery stores are open. Forty-percent do not have drinkable water.
Things are as dire in Puerto Rico as they were last week. For example, half of the island has access to drinkable water, and everyone is being told to boil water before using it.
“A lot of people are saying to us, how do you boil the water if you don’t have the power to boil it, if you don’t have the stove to turn on to boil the water?” Begnaud sai.
The governor said he is encouraging people to use generators or go to neighbor’s house to use a generator.
Begnaud says he received images from a man who was in Manatí with his family on Sunday. The pictures showed people standing in long lines waiting to get water on a side of the road where people were using PVC pipes to tap into a stream alongside a mountain.
Begnaud spoke with Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, who sent a letter to Congress on Monday saying that the municipalities are unable to reach the basic needs and are on the verge of a liquidity crisis. Rossello said one estimate indicates Puerto Rioc’s recovery could cost as much as $95 billion.
Begnaud asked Rossello if he was OK with Homeland Security’s decision to decline another waiver of the Jones Act, which has made transporting supplies to the island difficult.
Rossello said that while he hasn’t had enough time to evaluate how the waiver helped recovery efforts, “it would be best to have all options available.”
“We would like an extension but within the 10 day extension, we haven’t had enough data to say if it was helpful or not,” he said. “At this juncture, why not use all the tools available.”
Rossello said he’s been through San Juan the past couple of weeks and the cleanup has been an ongoing problem that hasn’t presented itself around Puerto Rico. He said on Sunday he went to areas that were still flooded and “you could see the major amounts of debris.”
“There were major amounts of debris in the morning but we went with our team,” he said, adding that the municipality hadn’t handled the response as well as it should have. He said he had not spoken to the mayor about the clean up.
Rossello says 15 municipalities are still in dire need for food and water supplies, and five isolated areas that they are working to deliver aid.