Over 11,000 FEMA tarps distributed in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN — While relief efforts continue in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María, this Friday Gov. Ricardo Rosselló established as a priority to provide tarps to the thousands of families who lost their roofs.
According to the governor — and confirmed by the regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Alejandro de la Campa — more than 11,000 tarps were distributed to homes, while the “blue roofs” have been installed on critical infrastructure.
“We understand that the [US Army Corps of Engineers] began with some of the hospitals, to ensure that that critical infrastructure is overed, but now the Corps of Engineers is evaluating along with FEMA where those canopies should be placed,” the governor explained.
Meanwhile, FEMA’s regional director for the Caribbean detailed on Friday morning during an interview with WKAQ 580 radio station, that tarps have been allocated to 30 municipalities. As for the blue canopies, which are “more permanent,” they have been installed in the Caño Martín Peña community, they will also be sent to the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra.
The federal official informed that today FEMA received 250,000 applications for aid. Two days ago, the total was at 143,000. De la Campa also stated that the agency has already paid out over $44 million “in assistance for towns and families” on the island.
“Despite the fact that, as we’ve mentioned, there is no communication across the island, the great majority of all the applications have been submitted via internet, via the FEMA application, through our personnel which has visited all municipalities,” indicated De la Campa during a press conference.
For those who don’t have access to the internet, De la Campa said they are coordinating with the mayors of each town to establish “registration centers” at the town halls or other areas that the mayors will identify, in order to complete applications. They will also be filling out applications at the shelters — of which there are 132 at the moment — in each town.
Death toll rises
During a press conference at the government command center, the official indicated that the amount of direct and indirect deaths related to Hurricane Maria, increased from 34 to 36. The most recent deaths were reported in Patillas and San Germán, caused by a falling tree and falling debris.
Rosselló also announced that he will sign an executive order today that will offer a dispensation to National Guard doctors and medical volunteers from the various government agencies in order to cover them under the government’s insurance. To that end, Rosselló requested that all agencies hand in “a complete log” of all medical volunteers.
“This is an emergency action, because we recognize that one of the priorities we have right now is an immediate health and a potential public health [crisis], so we need to have the greatest number of active doctors working across Puerto Rico,” he said.
During the daily press briefing, the governor mentioned that the number of gas stations operating islandwide increased to 860 today, which represents 78% of total stations. Access to cash also increased with 172 banks and 116 cooperatives working and 481 ATMs available.