Hurricane Maria is gone but will never be forgotten by millions of her victims on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Several days after her departure, scores of citizens are still without food, water, fuel, and other essentials. While numerous donors and aid agencies sent help, supplies were unable to reach those most in need due to logistical hurdles.

The Merchant Marine Act

This piece of legislation, also known as the Jones Act of 1920, was created primarily to protect American interests in local waters. It requires goods shipped to US territories to be transported by vessels built, owned and usually operated by Americans.

Critics of the Act, however, say it discriminates against consumers needing goods from the mainland since they have to pay increased shipping rates. Those who called for it to be waived over the past week included officials from Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Mixed reviews

Following the announcement of the 10-day waiver, San Juan’s Mayor called it “an act of justice." Speaking to CNN, Carmen Yulín Cruz said Puerto Ricans would be able “to rebuild and to have a cost of living that really, frankly, is affordable." Some members of Congress were also pleased with the move, noting that it would allow easier delivery of food, medicine, clothing and other supplies to the island. There have been detractors, however, to President Trump’s gesture.

Certain US officials argued that delivery delays were not caused by imports.

Scenes of frustration

As of Wednesday, the 27th, the main routes across the island were still being cleared and some shipping ports and airports remained closed. CNN reported that only 20 percent of truck drivers returned to work following the hurricane and nearly 10,000 containers containing medicine and other supplies were still at the San Juan port, waiting to be cleared.

Correspondents say many people are desperate for supplies. Scores have been lining up for hours and sometimes days, outside gas stations, banks, and grocery stores, only to leave empty handed. Governor Ricardo Rosselló was optimistic, however, and said that “more fuel, food, and flights were beginning to reach the island.” He told the New York Times that 11 regional centers were being set up to distribute aid and so far had received “two million liters of water and almost one million meals." The Governor believes that more assistance will soon be forthcoming.


Electricity outages are still prevalent on most of the island. However, officials revealed that 689 of 1,100 gas stations had reopened. White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert also confirmed that 44 of Puerto Rico’s 69 hospitals were now operational. At least 16 people were killed by Maria. President Trump, who has yet to see the damage firsthand, assured that he would during the first week of October.