Governor of Puerto Rico Sacks Two More Emergency Officials Who Say There Could Be Other Forgotten Warehouses Full of Hurricane Maria Disaster Aid
Lauren Edmonds, Leah Simpson, and Associated Press, Daily Mail, January 20, 2020
Puerto Rico’s governor fired two officials after a warehouse filled with emergency Hurricane Maria supplies was discovered and they could not say if there are more.
Governor Wanda Vázquez announced that Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar were formally terminated from their positions on Sunday following the fallout of the bombshell discovery.
Gil and Andújar’s exits come one day after Vasquez fired Carlos Acevedo, director of the US territory’s emergency management agency.
The string of dismissals follows the release of a Facebook video showing furious people breaking into a warehouse stocked with water, toiletries and supplies meant for victims of the 2017 Hurricane Maria.
Vasquez said: ‘There have been actions by government officials that have been completely unacceptable.’
‘They weren’t able to personally tell me specifically where these centers were located, what they contained and whether an inventory was completed.’
In addition to the government shakeup, Vasquez is concerned that the warehouse discovery could undermine Puerto Rico’s credibility with the Trump administration in Washington.
This week, President Donald Trump released a hold on $8billion in hurricane funds after pressure from Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, who ordered officials to ‘cease and desist that illegal activity.’
The funds were previously retained amid worries of corruption and mismanagement.
Trump claimed in May that Congress gave Puerto Rico $91billion for Hurricanes Irma and Maria disaster relief funds, saying that it was the largest appointment of any state in history.
In the past, Trump has criticized Puerto Rico’s leadership following the 2017 hurricane, saying: ‘So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted.’
Anger erupted across Puerto Rico on Saturday after Lorenzo Delgado, an online blogger, posted a video of the warehouse stocked to the brim with water bottles, cots, baby food and other basic supplies that had been untouched for nearly three years.
A group of enraged citizens broke into the warehouse and began distributing the goods to those affected by the recent quakes.
In August 2019, abandoned supplies were located in an elections office. Rats had torn through the food and medicine that could have saved lives.
Then in September 2019, a year after the hurricane, hundreds of pallets of water were found on an airstrip. The water had gone bad after months abandoned in the sun.
The outrage led it Governor Ricardo Rossello resigning in July 2019.