A week after Hurricane Maria crossed the island, the situation in Puerto Rico still totters on the edge of widespread catastrophe.
On the ground, Puerto Rico remains a patchwork of desperate fixes, with 3.4 million people improvising ways to get much-needed medicine, diesel for their generators, food for their shelves and water to either drink or bathe in. With no choice, people wait and wait, some as long as a day for gas or hours for food at local supermarkets, which are letting in 25 people at a time to avoid mayhem.
Almost all of the island is still without power. Most areas still have no communication. The number of small-scale and personal disasters still to be reported is difficult to assess.
Meanwhile, following a press conference in which Donald Trump declared no fewer than a dozen times that he was doing a “great” job in Puerto Rico, and said that his actions there received ‘great reviews,’ the administration continues to block an action that could provide relief to the island.
The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request to waive shipping restrictions to help get fuel and supplies to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying it would do nothing to address the island’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports.
While the Trump White House says that temporarily lifting the Jones Act wouldn’t help — it also couldn’t possibly hurt. Limiting the number of ships that can reach the island isn’t just about the amount of material that can be delivered, it’s about the prices. By keeping the fleet that can serve Puerto Rico small at a time when demand outstrips all possible supply, it drives the price of delivery upward.
The failure to lift the restriction makes many worry that Trump is more worried about protecting profits than Puerto Rico.