Crisis grows in Puerto Rico as towns without water, power and phone service

The Associated Press reports: A humanitarian crisis grew on Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria’s devastating passage across the US territory.

The death toll on the island stood on Saturday at 10, including two police officers who drowned in floodwaters in the western town of Aguada. That number was expected to climb as officials from remote towns continued to check in with officials in the capital, San Juan.

A group of anxious mayors arrived in the capital on Saturday to meet Governor Ricardo Roselló and present a long list of urgently needed items. The north coastal town of Manati had run out of fuel and fresh water, Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said.

“Hysteria is starting to spread,” he said, crying. “The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity. We need someone to help us immediately.”

Authorities in the town of Vega Alta on the north coast said they had been unable to reach an entire neighborhood called Fatima and were particularly worried about residents of a nursing home.

“I need to get there today,” Mayor Oscar Santiago said. “Not tomorrow, today.”

Rosselló said Maria would clearly cost more than the last major storm to hit the island, Hurricane George in September 1998. “This is without a doubt the biggest catastrophe in modern history for Puerto Rico,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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