The governor of Puerto Rico says the US Caribbean territory needs urgent help to rebuild after experiencing an “unprecedented disaster” in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
In a statement released on Twitter, Governor Ricardo Rossello said that “swift action” is needed as the island’s 3.4 million Americans struggle to recover from the storm.
“What Puerto Rico is experiencing after Hurricane Maria is an unprecedented disaster. The devastation is vast,” he said.
“Our infrastructure and energy distribution systems suffered great damages.”
The US Caribbean territory was still almost entirely without electrical power Monday, five days after Maria struck as a Category 4 storm.
Rossello said Puerto Rico is collaborating with the US federal government in the emergency response and that the territory has received “a tremendous outpour of solidarity from people all over the nation.”
In addition to the power outage, a damaged dam is in danger of collapsing and the communication network is crippled, according to news reports.
Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert have been dispatched to Puerto Rico, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Sanders defended the federal government’s response as “anything but slow,” citing rapid action on federal funding to provide aid. She said the US government would continue to do everything it can.
The US Coast Guard said it has sent 13 ships and 10 aircraft to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as part of its hurricane response. Among its objectives is the reopening of ports and waterways, the Coast Guard said in a statement.