Trump waives shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico for hurricane relief

Posted September 29, 2017

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a tweet, noted that the administration "has finally waived" the Jones Act.

Hurricane Maria hit the US territory more than a week ago, leaving it without power and its roughly 3.4 million residents short on fuel and other supplies. Reinstalling a power grid, along with housing rehabilitation and basic supplies, on a poor, isolated island that relied on tourism and agriculture, will require direct and consistent attention. That order included Puerto Rico, but expired last week shortly after Hurricane Maria struck.

Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat who was born in Puerto Rico, also urged Mr Trump to approve a waiver saying the disaster could prove to be "his Hurricane Katrina".

"We want to make sure that we're ready from the day the first person comes just in case that we have a large number or just that one person", Robert Brenker, director of personnel for education in Waterbury, said.

President Donald Trump's advisers are sticking up for the response to Hurricane Maria and the devastation in Puerto Rico.

The waiver, which will be in force for 10 days and will cover all products shipped to Puerto Rico, was signed on Thursday morning by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, the DHS said in a statement. She acknowledged some volunteer organizations might be frustrated with the lack of access, but she said any organization denied access is because they're offering services that are not among the immediate priorities.

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Now Rihanna's adding her voice to the chorus of people calling on Trump to send more aid to the island. Also on the way are ambulances and 100 trucks carrying diesel and gasoline fuel.

Waiving restrictions on foreign vessels that carry cargo to Puerto Rico "could overwhelm the system, creating unnecessary backlogs and causing confusion on the distribution of critical supplies throughout the island,"' said Thomas Allegretti, the group's chairman. "The power of this maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organization I have run up against in my political career", McCain said in 2014. The problem is this is not any storm.

Rubio said things are happening, but not quickly enough, and another agency with greater capacity with logistical and communication capabilities should be put in charge. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well.

"We have no idea what is happening in a lot of parts of Puerto Rico", Rubio said.

McClatchy reporter Joseph Cooke contributed.