Puerto Rico’s recovery a priority for Homeland Security
SAN JUAN – A little more than a week after Hurricane María’s passage through Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Friday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has joined local and federal efforts to contribute to the island’s recovery.
DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said the government currently has the support of more than 10,000 federal agents from various agencies, including the National Guard and the Department of Defense to assist in the distribution of supplies.
“President [Donald Trump] sent me to Puerto Rico today to meet with the governor in a unified command team on land. I needed to see [the situation] in person to evaluate and to make sure we have the assets needed to continue the recovery,” Duke said.
During her brief intervention with the media from the Government Command Center in the Convention Center, Duke stressed that the government should move from the initial phase of response and securing life to concentrate on a more effective distribution of resources.
“President [Trump] and I will not be satisfied until every Puerto Rican can return home, electric service is restored, drinking water is available, schools and hospitals operate fully, and the Puerto Rican economy is moving,” the official said.
Duke assured she had received the local government’s priorities to speed up the island’s recovery, including the recovery of infrastructure, support for thousands of families who lost their homes and stabilizing the electric power system.
Regarding the latter, Rosselló emphasized that the priority of the Electric Power Authority (Prepa) was its request for generators from the federal government to provide power to important areas, assess areas that can be given electric service more quickly and the possible creation of “microgrids” on the island.
Gov’t assures progress
Both the governor and La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario assured that the local government had achieved substantial progress in all sectors of the island, such as with roadway cleanup, communication between municipalities and telecommunications.
“The reality is we have seen a lot of progress in the cleanup of debris to reach the municipalities. Four days ago we could barely communicate with other municipalities,” Rosario said when highlighting the work of the National Guard and the Transportation & Public Works Department (DTOP by its SPanish initials).
He also said the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA) was restarted service for eight routes from the Hato Rey, Carolina, Cupey, Sagrado Corazón, San Juan and Bayamón terminals, from 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. The route to Loíza will offer service up to Piñones’s roofed court.
Currently, 61% of the gas stations on the island are operating. Meanwhile, 11,105 evacuees remain in 161 shelters. Regarding telecommunications, the latest report pegs service at 31%. The picture is worse with regard to cell towers, with only 9% operational.