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Puerto Rico Still Cut off from the World after Hurricane Maria

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Puerto Rico Still Cut off from the World after Hurricane Maria
Bernadine Racoma

It’s been days after Hurricane Maria wreaked Puerto Rico, and it’s only now that the full scope of the devastation left by the hurricane is seen by authorities.

Ten people lost their lives when Maria battered the island, according to the office of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. It has been 85 years since Puerto Rico was hit by a storm of Maria’s strength.

Most of the island is left without communications and power, affecting more than three million people. It has totally isolated Puerto Rico since Wednesday, when Maria hit the small U.S. territory.

Residents are starting to panic because they cannot reach loved ones, as they have very limited access to cellphone signal.

Over 95 percent of the country’s wireless cell sites do not function right now. People drove miles to reach Humacao, located east of Maunabo. A cell tower on a hill in the area has cell service. Along the road is a long line of cars, occupants trying to reach family and relatives in the U.S. and elsewhere to tell them that they are safe.

Authorities were stunned by what they saw when they were able to fly over Puerto Rico just this Saturday. Many old roads were nowhere to be seen. Other streets completely isolated residents because of the amount of debris that blocked the roads. They were awestruck by the amount of debris that accumulated all over Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Almost Completely Destroyed

When the governor, mayors and representatives met on Saturday, everyone shared their experiences and reported on the situation in their area.

Aside from the aftermath of Maria’s wrath, they reported incidents of looting in stores and homes. The governor predicts that they will have to trudge a long road to recovery.

Federal Aid

Pres. Trump pledged to send federal help to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The federal control board has approved $1 billion in local funds to help in Puerto Rico’s rehabilitation. The governor said that he would be asking for more.

On Saturday, federal aid started to pour in. Deployed to Puerto Rico to help with the recovery are 4,000 members of the U.S. Army Reserves.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that their federal partners are working hard to surmount challenges to restore power, and open ports so that aid, personnel and needed supplies can reach devastated areas.

A number of sea vessels and flights carrying generators, water and meals started to arrive or are on their way to Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories in the Caribbean.

In some areas, like at the northwest part of Puerto Rico, residents started to return to their homes. The opening of San Juan port, the main port of the island, allowed 11 ships from the U.S. mainland to bring a number of generators, food, 23,000 cots and 1.6 million gallons of water. There are several dozen shipments that are scheduled to arrive in the coming days.

Another Threat

While the entire island is trying to slowly rise from the devastation, there is still another threat to Puerto Rico.

A dam near the Guajataca River might collapse and many residents have been forced to evacuate. Local authorities had to go to the area to warn them of the imminent danger because communication has not yet been restored. Many parts are still flooded; therefore the final count of the fatalities is not yet final.

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