We are okay. We are not complaining. Our hands are tied because communications are crucial to coordinate relief efforts and everything else. Yet, we are getting used to tap water, hot nights, cold showers, radio, walking, talking with neighbors, pasta and tuna.
We see less trash on the streets and more people wandering around. The curfew has been extended to 9pm until 7pm. Nonetheless, people continue to ignore it. La ley seca (temp alcohol sale prohibition) was lifted mid-Friday, just in time for the weekend. Apparently the government thinks that if we start drinking, everything is gonna be alright and we will be happy at them. Not sure that's the way to go: stop lights don't work, all roads are pitch black after dawn, there are lots of debris and trash, and people are walking with flashlights. Drunk drivers are not a good call on the road right now. And there are no hospitals to treat emergencies.
We hear diesel is distributed everywhere. That's not true. More gas stations have opened, but lines continue to be long (not as log as before), which is hard evidence that there is not enough fuel. This is just the metro area, the rest of the island is not receiving the necessary diesel, water, food, meds, and relief aid to solve immediate issues and concerns. Hospitals are filled with patients, others had to close. Elderly homes have consolidated or elders have been moved to shelters due to lack of diesel and water. The unionized truckers have hard government demands and a working agreement has not been reached. Apparently they are on strike, but the media is not talking about this. Independent truckers have been showing up to government headquarters offering to help, but they keep getting waitlisted and told: "give us your info, we will call you if needed." Really? How would you contact them if most phones don't work!!??
We must keep pressing and demanding for help, especially everyone in the diaspora and all US citizens abroad. This crisis cannot dissipate from the world's attention. Fellow "american citizens" are dying in Puerto Rico because the help continues to be slow and logistics are not working. Over 9,500 containers have been parked at the port for days and distributed to those in urgent need.
All sorts of health issues may start to arise due to flooded areas, clogged sewage systems, and rotten foods. We cannot afford any epidemic now.
Crimes continue, prices on some items have gone up, water is more expensive in some markets and so is the diesel, I heard of people paying $12 for a gallon of diesel! Private dealers taking advantage and ignoring the government's price freeze on goods and fuel. And the few ATM's that function are crowded with long lines. In PR, many people depend on credit, but cash is king now.
It is estimated that 500-600,000 people are unemployed and will remain like this for months.
Trump is coming on Tuesday and we must organize to say HI (yeah right) in the best way we know how to protest. Puerto Rico has challenged him to shame. He must swallow his egocentric pride and do something. He feels the pressure from senators, celebrities, US citizens, and world leaders. History will remember him as the asshole that has no filter, no heart, and no compassion. This is a chance for him (not to redeem himself, because he cannot), but for once, say and do something that matters.
Update to friends/family abroad, diaspora and locals lucky with wifi signal that comes and goes. The situation in Puerto Rico continues to deteriorate. We are suffering a humanitarian crisis. Ignore the reported deaths in the media, those numbers are wrong. I never though this will happen here. I think we need massive and immediate military intervention. We need expert military logistics. This crisis must be treated as a war. Ignore bureaucracies and take action. Leave egos at home, forget politics, and resign to the need for control and media attention. People are struggling for their lives because the help and the relief aid is not reaching their destination. And the heat wave is fierce.
Security companies are hiring anyone who has a license to bear arms to assist in security. Anyone? Really??? Looting, crimes and robberies continue to rise everywhere and at any time during the day. This is wild. The 7pm indefinite curfew is affecting the few local businesses that can sell us stuff we need while making some money and is also allowing criminals to reign at night.
Private aircrafts are transporting sick patients abroad. Hospitals and ER cannot take more patients. You show up at the door and they say: sorry, we have no space or no diesel. The main airport in San Juan lost its radar and flights are using Miami controls to land and depart. Lines are impossible. It may take days or weeks to leave the island. News yesterday estimated that more than 100,000 may leave the island for good.
Today, Congress finally lifted the Jones Act (see wikipedia) temporarily for ten days to allow help from Cuba, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and any other country that is sending and wants to send help. The Jones Act prohibits relief aid from country other than USA, an economic barrier that benefits the US and has been crushing our local economy for decades.
As more gas stations open, longer are the lines. It may take 6-9hrs to load $30 on your vehicle, if lucky. Robbers continue to have their way, they even vandalized telecommunications post to keep the signals down. Today, robbers stole the diesel from a hospital center in Guaynabo!!!!!! How can this be happening???
Stay safe people. Watch your backs. Keep watchmen at night. Grab the machete. Don't leave your home or neighborhood unless it's really necessary! I am writing from Condado and can list over 30 looting and assault incidents from Isla Verde, Santurce, Punta las Marías. Ocean Park, Loiza St., Condado, Miramar, Puerta de Tierra and Old San Juan. This is a call for safety not to create more panic. Please take all necessary preventive measures.
Peace, love and hope to all!
If you can read this in PR, consider yourself lucky because few of us have signal. Just speaking with my wife, we realized that just one week ago now, we were rushing to complete the final preparations and wait for Maria to strike. One week later, there are thousands of people still unreached, and waiting to be rescued. The first few days after the storm's passing, we thought the government was doing a good job, but there seem to be major faults in the logistics and distribution of: gas, diesel, food, and water. Lines at supermarkets and gas stations can take hours, and you may not be able to buy much food/water or refill your tank. Aid is most desperate for the most needy. If we need drivers and security to transport necessary supplies, fly 600 drivers and security personnel ASAP. Security is becoming nonexistent, I no longer see the police patrolling our neighborhood. Looting, robberies and assaults continue to increase and I see NO cops and NO military personnel anywhere. And if you voted for Trump, you complicated matters for us. The asshole is unwilling to help, he is busy picking up a fight with "the madman"and the NFL. (Update: just heard on the radio that Trump said we will get all the help we need and that he is coming to PR on Oct 3rd...lets see because he tends to change his mind quite often). The local government has lost control of the situation and FEMA and the feds are taking over. We are seeing faster and more effective relief aid from artists, musicians, business leaders, athletes and the diaspora.
Today, my wife and I walked around our neighborhood and saw a lot of destruction. We were able to get on the car and finally see and make contact with our family. We drove by most of San Juan metro area, except many areas that were blocked by trees or electric posts on the road. The visuals are very sad and terrifying. And we did not get the worst of it. But from what we saw, it will take a long time to rebuild and heal. We will not be the same. Nonetheless, we are confident that our island and our people will come back stronger and more united than ever!!! Let's stay positive and hopeful. We can overcome this. ¡Vamos Puerto Rico! Thank you for all the messages of encouragement and asking how you can help from the diaspora or abroad. As soon as we know something, we will let you know. The internet and phone access continue to be very limited.
Update: We are okay. Hurricane Maria has continued its course northwest of San Juan, but the winds are still fierce. The loud winds and sounds were frightening so we quickly sought shelter at our bunker room. Outside the windows, we see: trees, doors, air conditioners, wood panels, steel plates, cable dishes, shingles, beach sand, and more debris. We have radio signal and the reports islandwide are dim, there are record-breaking floods everywhere, many houses and buildings destroyed, and many affected people calling for rescue. Luckily, there are no deaths reported. Tomorrow, we will stand up together to assess the damage and rebuild Puerto Rico. Thank you for your messages of encouragement, prayers and support.