An astounding 20,000 pallets of unopened bottled water was discovered on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico.
As Puerto Ricans were desperately looking for the precious resource and dying due to a lack thereof, millions of bottles of water sat waiting to be distributed. FEMA, in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Maria, had brought supplies to the island, but, apparently, didn’t think it was important to have an action plan to deliver to residents.
Federal officials had taken over the area in the far east of the island last fall as a central location, collecting the water and containers full of tarps to patch damaged and destroyed roofs in surrounding neighborhoods.
However, the hurricane survivors were unaware of the lifesaving bounty and they collected spring water from the mountains for cooking and bathing even knowing that water could possibly be contaminated and not safe for consumption.
All of this occurred in lieu of President Trump’s delusional declaration of FEMA’s successful assistance efforts on the storm-ravaged island.
To make matters worse, the blame game ensued between Puerto Rican government officials and FEMA.
Jeff Byard, FEMA Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, stated: “FEMA handles getting the supplies to the state or commonwealth, who, in turn, handle distributing those items at a local level. Obviously with Maria, we had not a supply issue, we had distribution issues.”
Ottmar Chavez, administrator of Puerto Rico’s General Services Administration and not appointed at the time of the hurricane, said: “FEMA reported that it had about 20,000 pallets of bottled water in excess in May this year and that his agency would be responsible for its distribution.”
He went on to elaborate: “700 pallets had been distributed and complaints began to come in about the water’s foul smell and taste. In light of this, we have been in contact with FEMA and the Department of Health to test the water inventory received by the federal agency. We are going to return those waters.”
Residents are still struggling to get their lives back to normal one year later. And the death toll is now at almost 3,000 and it’s sure to continue to climb.
Great job, Mr. President.