Trump administration released a statement that to temporarily waive a century-old shipping law for Puerto Rico.
Jones Act was limiting access to food, medicine, clothing and needed supplies, officials said.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, announced the waiver on Twitter, saying that Trump had authorized it after a request from Gov. Ricardo A. Rosello of Puerto Rico.
“It is an act of justice. It will allow Puerto Ricans to rebuild and to have a cost of living that really frankly is affordable,” Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, said on CNN on Thursday.
Several members of Congress on Monday asked the administration to temporarily waive the law, arguing that a waiver was needed to facilitate the delivery of food, medicine, clothing and other supplies to the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
While shipping the aid to Puerto Rico is one challenge, the U.S. Homeland Security Department says that moving the aid from ports into towns and neighborhoods is a much larger problem. Bloomberg reported Thursday morning that food and supplies are sitting untouched at the understaffed and damaged port of San Juan:
The U.S. government has now shipped 4 million meals and 1.59 million gallons of water. Domestic firms have moved 9,500 containers to Puerto Rico, according to the American Maritime Partnership. One ship with more than 35 million pounds, or the equivalent of 1,900 planes, arrived Sunday.
Trucks are ready to be loaded with the goods and precious diesel for backup generators, but workers aren’t around to drive. Instead, they’re caring for families and cleaning up flood damage — and contending with the curfew.
The buildings that would receive supplies are destroyed and without electricity. … The transport companies that have staff available and diesel on hand encounter downed poles and power lines while navigating 80,000-pound tractor-trailers on delicate washed-out roads.