‘We Can’t Find Them’: Puerto Rico Low On Drivers To Deliver Supplies

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Eight days after Hurricane Maria flattened much of Puerto Rico, basic resources like food, water, fuel, and medicine are increasingly hard to find and now money is also becoming scarce.

The Trump Administration moved Thursday morning to waive restrictions on foreign ships, to allow deliveries from U.S. ports into Puerto Rico but members of Congress say action has been far too slow.

More than 3,000 shipping containers were sitting at the Port of San Juan.

“In these containers, we have medicines, there’s water,” said Vice President of Crowley Shipping Jose Ayala.

Ayala says the stalled supplies could help more than half a million Puerto Ricans.

“Yeah it’s sad and it’s frustrating as well,” said Ayala. “Unless trucking companies start showing up, unfortunately there is nothing that we can do.”

Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello says the storm caused a shortage of truck drivers to deliver the essentials.

“The bus drivers that would traditionally take these foods they don’t – they’re not up here,” said Rosello. “We can’t find them or reach them.”

Money is now even becoming scarce.

The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory’s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island.

There are long lines at the banks that are open with reduced hours or the scattered ATMs that are operational amid an islandwide power outage and near total loss of telecommunications. Many people are unable to work or run their businesses because diesel to run generators is in short supply or they can’t spend all day waiting for gas to fill their car.

Most roads are still blocked by debris and fuel is in short supply.

Lines stretch for blocks as people wait in the stifling heat for basic necessities.

“This is our third day getting gas. It’s just that, with the tanks, they just hold very little,” said resident Marybeth Cardenas.

Under pressure from Congress, the Trump administration is temporarily waiving restrictions on foreign ships, to allow deliveries from U.S. ports into Puerto Rico but in an emotional news conference, lawmakers called for more.

“Our Puerto Rican brothers and sister are American citizens. They have fought in every conflict. They have shed blood. They have died for our freedoms. It is morally incumbent upon us to help them,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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