Maria pushes Puerto Rico to the edge

Ruben Ruiz
September 24, 2017

"These are fatalities we know of", Pesquera said.

Earlier Friday, Puerto Rico's public safety officer Héctor M. Pesquera said at least six people had died in the storm, but stressed these were official numbers that did not include all of the storm-related deaths.

"We're trying to figure out the logistics to make sure that what we are collecting is going to get to the island", she said.

US President Donald Trump pledged support to both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as they recover from hurricanes Maria and Irma, the White House said.

Correa is collecting supplies and working with people in Puerto Rico to determine how best to get his donation to the southern part of the island where he's from.

A failing dam has sparked emergency evacuations of two towns in north-west Puerto Rico as the USA territory struggled with flooding, an island-wide blackout and other dangers in Hurricane Maria's wake.

Rossello told CNN the island is lacking communications and the preliminary assessment at this point is 13 fatalities. That process if being complicated by the continued rain and a tangled web of damaged roads and bridges.

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City Councilman Matt Zone said he planned to meet with leaders at City Hall in an effort to coordinate a community response.

Officials said 1,360 of the island's 1,600 phone towers had been brought down, and 85% of above-ground and underground phone and internet cables were knocked out. "This is the one way that we "puertorros" in the states can help".

Until Friday, he said, "there was no real understanding at all of the gravity of the situation".

Maria looked unlikely to hit the continental United States but its storm swells will reach the southeastern coast from Friday, the NHC said.

Utility crews from the mainland US are also travelling to the island to get power back on line, but given the deteriorated state of the neglected grid before Maria even arrived, that will not be an esay task.

Angelo Ortiz, 55, of Brooklyn, and a member of Latin Americans for Academics, Arts and Athletics, helped supervise the effort and noted, "We don't know how to say no when it comes to our people". "There's still a great deal of flooding", he said. Cuomo's office says Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello asked his NY counterpart for assistance. The island commonwealth of 3.4 million USA citizens is dependent on sea commerce in normal times for food and fuel, including fuel oil for its power plants. Cuomo vowed to send NY aid to the devastated islands. "Just go to youcaring.com/rickymartin and help us", Martin said in an emotional video.

Meanwhile, FEMA has freight vessels loaded with more than 1.3 million meals, 2 million liters of water, 30 generators and 6,000 cots en route to St. Thomas, awaiting port opening and clearance.

Other reports by GizPress

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