President Donald Trump is moving to apply the full resources of the federal government to assist in the Hurricane Maria relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
FEMA officials told Breitbart Texas that progress is being made, “but there is still a long way to go.”
“We’re working closely with our federal partners to support Governors Mapp & Rossello, in their response efforts,” a Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) told Breitbart Texas in a written statement. “Hurricane Maria had devastating effects on the islands, seriously impacting communications, power and logistical access. While significant progress is being made, there is still a long way to go. As access to ports, airfields, and roads continues to become available, additional resources will continue to flow into hard-hit areas.”
In addition to military resources being deployed by the president, FEMA deployed more than 500 people to both of the U.S. territories affected by the category 4 hurricane that slammed ashore last week. FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force members saved or assisted 557 people and two pets during a search of more than 2,600 structures.
One high priority success was the restoration of power to the Centro Médico Hospital in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan.
“The Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital in St. Croix and the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas are re-energized and re-established as mobile hospitals,” the FEMA spokesman stated.
The agency is also working closely with other offices and private sector partners to provide the availability, transportation, and delivery of fuel to the islands. In support of this mission, FEMA is working closely with the Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard along with private sector resources officials stated.
Critical supplies delivered include: 4 million meals, 6 million liters of water, nearly 300 infant and toddler kits, and 70,000 tarps and 15,000 rolls of roof sheeting. Officials said that 7 million more meals and 4 million liters of water are on the way.
FEMA also deployed its Mobile Emergency Response Support teams to assist with communications. More satellite phones are on the way as well.
The agency is being assisted by the following federal agencies:
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized FEMA and DoD to install and operate temporary water treatment units to provide clean water in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DoD conducted medical evacuations for more than 150 patients from the islands to the continental United States. Medical evacuations from the islands will continue.
- A U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) mobile communications team arrived in Puerto Rico to help improve communications across the storm-impacted area. USCG personnel continue to deliver critical FEMA relief supplies to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) deployed debris experts to assist FEMA with debris management strategies in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands completed a Blue Roof install on Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
- Additionally, USACE has generators on hand in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, with more en route.
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations personnel are onsite in St. Thomas to evaluate, fix, and install FAA equipment, in support of air traffic control operations.
- The National Guard Bureau (NGB) has thousands of Guard members on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands taking part in security and support operations. The Air National Guard is focused on transporting food, water, and communications capabilities as well as rapidly increasing airlift into affected areas.
- Customs and Border Protection airplanes and helicopters are assisting with conducting damage assessment and search and rescue missions.
- More than 180 Federal Law Enforcement Officers are in San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands supporting search and rescue, medical teams, and other federal responders.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló warned his territory is facing a humanitarian crisis. He urged Congress to move quickly with an aid package and reminded officials that his residents “are U.S. citizens too.”
“We need something tangible, a bill that actually answers to our need right now,” Rosselló told CNN. “Otherwise, there will be … a massive exodus to the (mainland) United States.”
Follow complete coverage of the Hurricane Maria Relief Effort on Breitbart Texas.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.