Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico and surrounding islands leaving at least five dead and hundreds of thousands without power before moving north and leaving the island to recover.
Former San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told Jim Braude on Greater Boston that, as of Wednesday, 80% of people in Puerto Rico don’t have electricity and about half don’t have water. She said concerns over the electricity are growing as people cannot access medical treatments, like getting dialysis or using nebulizers.
Cruz called on Puerto Rico’s central government to channel aid directly to mayors so they can help residents quickly. She said there are major infrastructure problems with the island’s electrical grid that need to be addressed — not just responded to in an emergency.
“[There’s a] lack of will to break through the barriers that need to be pushed away if we want to look for permanent solutions to recurring problems, and the structural changes that need to take place — like the one that needs to take place in the electrical grid. And that’s on us, that’s not on the federal government,” Cruz said.
There are about 300 FEMA representatives working on the ground in Puerto Rico right now, according to Cruz. There’s significant support with finding and rescuing people who were endangered by the storm, she said, but immediate relief funds haven’t arrived yet.
“The aid needs to start flowing,” she said. “So far what I hear from mayors is that that has not taken place.”
More rain is expected in Puerto Rico throughout the weekend. “This will make matters even worse with a lot of flooding,” Cruz said.
Still, she said though the people in Puerto Rico are resilient, they’re also fatigued.
“Let me put this in perspective. In the five years, we have gone through zika, chikungunya, two major hurricanes, political unrest, bankruptcy, two major earthquakes, the pandemic and now this,” Cruz said. “So if you look up ‘resilient’ in the Webster dictionary, there should be a picture of Puerto Rico right there.”
Watch: Residents of Puerto Rico need aid in wake of Hurricane Fiona