Puerto Rican residents wait in sweltering heat for food, fuel

World Today

People use their devices to communicate as they congregate on the street at a wifi hotspot in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Federal aid is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service by the hurricane. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Millions in Puerto Rico are without electricity, running water, or fuel in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Aid is beginning to trickle in, but local officials are saying urgent action is needed.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez reports.

The government insists there is enough fuel, but long lines at gas stations speak to the contrary, with desperate customers waiting for a priceless source of comfort.

“I’ve been here since five in the morning… I think the government is doing a bad job. The officers are doing a bad job,” resident Rubern Corderos said. “They can’t control the crowds. It’s getting out of hand.”

Waiting in temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), locals hope to get the diesel needed to power their generators.

“We have fuel. The companies have fuel. But the problem with the gas stations is that they have no power,” according to gas station owner Ralph Vicente.

Elsewhere, long lines snake along sidewalks at supermarkets, while others are parking along highways in the hope of capturing a cell signal.

“I have a lot of friends here in the Condado area, and we don’t know anything about them,” Keyla Valle said. “We don’t know if they are in a refuge or if they are in some other place. They are working, they are walking, we don’t know.”

The lack of cellular service has isolated many communities on the island from the rest of the world, further complicating coordination and relief efforts. Even the government is not able to reach more than a dozen municipalities, leaving stranded communities on their own.

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