As of Sunday, Puerto Rico Gov’t Still Can’t Communicate With Nine Municipalities

On Sunday afternoon (four days after Hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico), the Puerto Rican government said that it has yet to establish communication with nine of the island’s municipalities.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló (Photo provided by Government of Puerto Rico)

“[Governor Ricardo] Rosselló Nevares obtained information from mayors and representatives from 52 municipalities during a meeting at the convetion center,” an official media update from the government said. “Only nine municipalities are pending communication: Aibonito, Jayuya, Lajas, Mayagüez, Quebradillas, Rincón, Sábana Grande, Vieques and Villalba.”

Here is the entire Sunday media release from the government:

(September 24, 2017 – San Juan) Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares extended an indefinite curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. until the island can overcome the state of emergency.

The Executive Order was amended by the Governor to exempt the following: federal and municipal employees working in relief efforts; municipal, state and federal security employees; individuals working in rebuilding infrastructure that is vital such as: airports, ports, telecommunications, electric services, aqueduct and sewage structures; private security employees; health industry employees working in hospital and clinics.

Also exempt: community organization personnel providing health services, employees working in the hospitality industry, restaurants and supermarkets, distributors of essential need items such as water, food, and gas, members of the press, and citizens handling emergency situations.

At the same time, it was established that all law enforcement officials, as defined by Rule 11 of Criminal Procedure, can arrest any person not honoring this executive order.

Moreover, the governor informed that today the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP) and the National Guard of Puerto Rico will continue to clear public roads to allow agency directors to access the nine municipalities for which information is still not available.

The Governor explained that due to weather conditions it is not possible to fly over the entire island. At the same time, roads are still obstructed but efforts are underway to clean and remove debris.

Rosselló Nevares obtained information from mayors and representatives from 52 municipalities during a meeting at the convention center. Only nine municipalities are pending communication: Aibonito, Jayuya, Lajas, Mayagüez, Quebradillas, Rincón, Sábana Grande, Vieques and Villalba.

All municipal Mayors and their representatives will have a meeting today at 11:00 a.m. with the Central Government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Governor reiterated that any information regarding the need for fuel in hospitals or nursing homes should be reported directly to Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias (COE) AT 787 725 7035 not via social media.

Today 20 trucks will arrive at the municipalities that do not have access to diesel or gas to enable fuel distribution where needed.

Once again, the Governor reiterated that residents near the Guajataca river need to evacuate the area. According to the experts, the damage to the dam is severe and it can fail at any moment.

As of now, it is still unknown how many citizens have evacuated the area. However, National Guard and Puerto Rico Police are working in Quebradillas and Isabela to assure that all children and elderly, under Law 211, are evacuated.

Ten deaths have been confirmed related to hurricane Maria: 1 in Bayamon (due to accident with wood panel), 3 in Utuado due to a mudslide, 2 found in Toa Baja, 1 in Arecibo due to flooding, 1 private citizen in Las Marias due to a heavy machinery accident, 2 policemen near Aguada drowned on their way to their residences due to Culebrina River overflow.

The AAA informed that the Toa Vaca dam is stable at 526 feet. This dam at 540 feet of water automatically opens and will cause flooding in Juana Diaz, Ponce and Villalba.

AAA Employees are monitoring the situation and ready to recommend evacuations in communities near rivers in case rain continues and levels rise.

Last night, the AEE provided power to San Pablo Hospital and several nearby communities. The public entity has evaluated 50% of the overall system and has identified that 80% of the transmission and distribution infrastructure has towers and structures on the floor. It is expected that the remaining evaluation will be completed by tomorrow.

Regarding logistics to receive donations, interested parties should access the portal: www.unitedforpuertorico.com; ATH móvil app: 787 552 9141; Paypal paypal.me/unitedforpuertorico; or First Bank, account number 0108501910.

All donations to the Island during this state of emergency should be channeled thru Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington D.C.

In regards to telecommunications, the Isla Verde underwater pipe that allows long distance calls and improves internet services has been repaired.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) informed that the government will authorize waivers to allow companies of CAOS and of mobile infrastructure and telecommunications to do business in the island. Conversations with companies such as Google have commenced.

Yesterday two telecommunication planes arrived from Spain with equipment that will aid in restoring services in the island. Meanwhile, the AT&T vessel from Jacksonville and the Claro vessel from Dominican Republic are on their way with equipment and personnel. Additionally, an agreement was reached between these companies to join efforts and restore each other’s equipment during this emergency.

Obstructed or destroyed roads:

o PR 60 in km 1.6 from Fajardo to Caguas is closed in both directions.
o Road PR 52 km 27.9 is closed in direction from San Juan to Ponce (it should be restored by Tuesday or Thursday)
o PR 3 from Fajardo to Río Grande from km 30.7 to 31.1 and from 38.8 al 44.7.
o Highway PR 26 Baldorioty in km 4.1, partially flooded.
o PR 2 at km 200, flooding; km 22.6 in Toa Baja and km 140 headed to Mayagüez to Arecibo.
o PR 111 in Utuado, impassible due to landslides el km 54.4 (detour PR 603 and 6103).
o PR 59 in Juana Díaz is intransitable km 1.
o PR 108 Mayagüez at km 12.6 detoured by PR 406 and 4430.
o Problem at La Virgencita in Toa Alta and Punta Salinas at 165.

On Sunday night, CBS News reported that Rosselló is asking for the Pentagon for more immediate help.

UPDATE: On Monday morning, the Puerto Rican government posted another release:

(September 24, 2017 – San Juan) The Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares informed that this afternoon several regions of Ponce, Aguadilla, Bayamon, Canovanas, Arecibo, Mayagüez and Utuado, total of 45 municipalities received water and food by terrestrial efforts.

This delivery was made in liaison with The Red Cross, Puerto Rico Department of Family Affairs and the collection center coordinated by the First Lady Beatriz Rosselló.

This afternoon the first executive and the ex-governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla and the federal coordinator for FEMA, Alejandro De La Campa, provided food and water to the community of Barrio Obrero located in San Juan.

This Wednesday, September 27, 2017, the municipalities of Caguas, Ponce, Utuado, Arecibo, Mayaguez and Guayama will be open for operations. This will allow the Mayors to have access to their offices before Thursday.

The Puerto Rico Ports Authority informed that the vessel Isla Bella owned by TOTE docked with 800 containers with water, medicines, generators, cars, construction materials, electrical equipment and refrigerators. Also, a vessel owned by the company: Luis Ayala Colón arrived with 250 containers that carried the same items.

On the other hand, the gas station Total has 70 functional locations. Gulf stations currently has 40 stations that are functional and could have 40 more in the next days. Puma has 60 stations open and could open 30 more. Shell has 15 open stations and 46 could open shortly. Ecommax has several of its stations open the south and center region of the island.

As of now, gas has already been dispensed from the Yabucoa terminal. This location supplies gas to Toral, Shell and American Petroleum. Currently this location supplies gas to 30% of the distribution in the island.

The Governor ordained the exemption for a portion of the denominated “crudita” for the purchase of diesel being sold to hospitals, telecommunications, dialysis centers and municipalities.

Meanwhile, the University of Puerto Rico requested all their administrative and maintenance employees should report to their work sites tomorrow to start with the identification of damages in infrastructure.

Regarding the public-school system, it was confirmed that individuals should report to their pertaining schools to make efforts to return to regular educational curriculum as soon as possible.

In the telecommunications area, it was informed that two brigades of the Department of Transportation and Public Works that currently have security, will work on opening gaps to the towers that need repairs. Total will supply gas for the towers in flexible purchase.

It was informed that AT&T was vandalized. They are waiting to resolve problems today if they do not find any mayor damages to supply service to the metro area.

On the other hand, the Department of Health is urgently requesting their auxiliary secretaries, essential personnel, office directors for offices as WIC, Medicaid, Regionales, hospitals and drivers to report to duties as of tomorrow, Monday at 8:00 a.m.

At the same time, The Department of Family requests their social workers and supervisors of Bayamon, Carolina and San Juan. Employees working at central offices should report to duties tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. in the offices located at Barbosa Avenue.

Regarding Ley Seca, it was advised that the individuals that violate this statute would have a 6-month suspension of license.

Finally, the mayors or their representatives should report tomorrow to the Center of Operations of Emergencies to coordinate the delivery of food and water to their municipalities.

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