It has been a week since Puerto Rico emerged from a double battering by hurricanes, and it is caught in a painful, torpid recovery. Far more and far faster help is needed as the island struggles with vast devastation that only the federal government has the resources to repair.
In one sign that Washington is getting the message, President Trump finally agreed Thursday, after days of dithering, to temporarily waive restrictions on shipments by foreign vessels to the islandâs ports. The administration also appointed a three-star general to focus on faster distribution of emergency supplies, addressing one of the main problems on the wreckage-clogged island. The Pentagon was rushing to send more military assets, including a hospital ship.
Mountains of vital cargo â roughly 10,000 containers of food, water and medicine â were already backed up at San Juan piers because of a shortage of delivery trucks, drivers and fuel to send the aid on to communities across the island. Roads remained blocked, and enough drivers could not be found as they saw to their own families and homes. Hospitals warned they were running low on diesel for emergency generators, with at least two deaths reported as a result.
Gov. Ricardo RossellÃ³ took care to praise Mr. Trump for his concern and optimistic promises, saying, âHe has been on top of it.â But the governor wisely emphasized a larger message for congressional leaders and fellow Americans. If aid is not forthcoming on the levels of that for Texas and Florida, Mr. RossellÃ³ warned of âa massive exodusâ of Puerto Ricans to the mainland as fully entitled citizens, hurting the islandâs chances for a full recovery and â probably to the consternation of Republicans â bringing âdeep…