'Humanitarian Crisis' Fears Grow in Puerto Rico in Aftermath of Hurricane Maria
The Guajataca Dam collapsing in Puerto Rico could put 70,000 lives in great danger
Officials in Puerto Rico are pleading for help after at least 10 people have been killed by Hurricane Maria and millions have been left without power. The situation could easily lead to a “humanitarian crisis,” says Governor Ricardo Rosselló.
“We need something tangible, a bill that actually answers to our need right now,” Governor Rosselló told CNN on Monday. “Otherwise, there will be … a massive exodus to the [mainland] United States.”
The governor isn’t alone as he asks Congress and the White House for help. Hillary Clinton also stressed that the people stranded are American citizens.
“President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens,” she wrote.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also spoke out on the growing crisis.
“The Trump Administration must act immediately to make available additional Department of Defense resources for search-and-rescue operations, law enforcement and transportation needs,” she said in a statement Monday. “Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands deserve to know that their government will be there for them, without question or hesitation.”
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Another major and more immediate concern is the Guajataca Dam, which is draining water following a “critical infrastructure failure” due to the storm.
“Some of the dam has fallen apart,” Rosselló told the news outlet. “Now we are making sure that we can assess if the other part will fall down as well. It represents a great danger for about an estimated 70,000 people.”
Authorities have had to personally go to thousands of homes to let people know that National Guard is telling people who live below the dam that they need to evacuate by Friday. With 95 percent of wireless cell sites out — and phones only working in the metropolitan area — many are left not knowing the severity of the conditions.
“My action has been to order evacuation,” Rosselló told CNN. “I’d rather be wrong on that front than do nothing and having it fail and costing people their lives.”
Despite concerns that Puerto Rico is running out of water and food, Rosselló says they have enough fuel for the next 20 days.
“We have centers that will distribute water and food, we’ve already started getting shipments. Today, as a matter of fact, we had a million liters of water come in to Puerto Rico. We have half a million servings of food and other resources,” he said.