PUERTO RICO (Alyana Gomez/KTVU) - Crackers and rain water is what some families in Puerto Rico are living off of, as they continue to wait for aid they so desperately need.
Ships carrying supplies are finally on its way to the island, but dispersing those goods around the island is part of the problem.
When people hear phrases like apocalyptic conditions and a possible humanitarian crisis, people start to realize how dire the situation is in Puerto Rico. Basic necessities like food, water and gas are extremely scarce and in some areas totally inaccessible.
It wasn’t until Tuesday when we heard that more than a dozen ships were heading to the island with resources Puerto Ricans have been waiting for since Hurricane Maria hit a week ago.
Some grocery stores are starting to reopen, but food is rationed, with a limited supply per family.
Very few gas stations have fuel. The ones that do, run out before the afternoon, leaving most people stranded in line for as long as 8 hours with no gas to go home. Water is so tough to find, people are saving rain water just to feed and hydrate their children. Hundreds of others waited for hours, with buckets ready to fill after finding a water pump.
“They have not yet brought water to this place that’s why you see such a crazy mess of people. Everyone just trying to get water to survive,” said one man.
Meanwhile, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke says basic necessities are available on the island, but they’re working on the distribution issues.
“We are attacking the areas of the diminished capacity. So, there is food and water on the island. There is gasoline on the island. We have asked Defense Logistics Agency to augment the local National Guard and distribute-- distribution channels that we can get goods and gasoline out more quickly," said Duke.
Those supplies aren’t coming fast enough. Puerto Ricans are taking to Facebook live, with desperate pleas for help to their fellow Americans.
“Please share this video man. There’s a lot of stuff going on in Puerto Rico that people don’t know about. I just got word in Aguadilla, there’s no water, no food, no cash no nothing,” said Pito Cortez.
Roads in many parts of the island are impassable, covered in debris and collapsed power lines. Hospitals in Puerto Rico are seeing severe overcrowding and unable to perform surgeries, leaving people to wait for care. One hundred percent of the power grids distribution network remains damaged. More than half of the island’s transmission towers are destroyed.
Help is on the way, but not soon enough. Leaders in Puerto Rico and the U.S. are urging President Trump to suspend the Jones Act, which regulates shipping and would speed up the delivery of much needed resources.
“We're thinking about that but we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that doesn’t want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now,” said President Trump.
President trump did waive the Jones Act after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma when Texas and Florida were facing a massive fuel shortage. In Puerto Rico, we are talking about American citizens living in third world conditions.
People have been sleeping at the airports for days, desperate to get out. San Juan airport is operating on 21 emergency generators and can only handle 18 commercial flights a day as opposed to the usual 167.
If you'd like to help the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, Borinquen Soul has a Gofundme and a way to to drop off supplies at their 2020 MacAruthur Blvd. location in Oakland.