Monday, October 23, 2017

Roughly 80% of crops in Puerto Rico lost following Hurricane María

By on September 24, 2017

SAN JUAN — Hurricane María devastated at least 80% of plantains, bananas, coffee and papaya crops in Puerto Rico, according to preliminary estimates provided by the government.

The economic impact has yet to be determined as the island continues with severe communication problems and no power service.

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and U.S. Coast Guard Captain Erick King, moreover, reported that the Port of San Juan remains the only one open, while efforts continue to open the rest of the ports on the island.

As for the hit Hurricane María had on Puerto Rico’s agricultural sector, crops had already been affected more than two weeks ago with Hurricane Irma. At that time, almost 30% of crops were affected, with losses estimated at $30.6 million.

The resident commissioner reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides aid for this type of situation. González added that there is a bill in Congress that would be seen in January and that includes funds for crops affected by flooding. She requested amendments to the measure in order to include the commonwealth.

“Puerto Rico does not enjoy the same reimbursements or insurance coverage as the rest of the agricultural crops [in the States]. That is one of the amendments we are submitting,” said the official during a press conference on Sunday at the Convention Center in Miramar, the government’s command center during this emergency.

Still unknown when ports will open

Although the San Juan Port is already open, King didn’t want to say when the rest of the ports will do so as the U.S. Coast Guard continues to assess the damages, making sure ground and submarine cleaning is done so vessels are able to dock.

The San Juan Port is operating for emergencies and supply ships only during daylight.

Nearly 800 Coast Guard officers are working in the reopening of the following ports: Yabucoa (receives fuel), Mayagüez, Guayanilla, Salinas (receives fuel for the Aguirre powerplant), Peñuelas (asphalt) Ponce (general cargo and construction) and Guayama (fuel for the EcoEléctrica powerplant).

“It’s a different Puerto Rico than we saw a week ago. The devastation of property, structures, families without houses, rubble everywhere, the green of the island is gone. Even in the fields, a reforestation effort must be done. Rivers flowed out of their channels. They entered the streets of the towns … [That] endangers the lives of Puerto Ricans,” González said.

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