POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Puerto Rico officials: ‘We will rebuild, but we need help’

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

Federal Aid can start flowing to Puerto Rico now that the president has declared it a disaster area. The island was already hobbled by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Maria dealt a second devastating blow leaving splintered homes and flooded streets and people without power to notify their relatives here. Senior Correspondent David Cruz was able to reach the governor’s spokesman Carlos Mercader .

Cruz: Carlos Mercader is a spokesperson for Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló. Carlos, thank you very much for taking a few minutes with us.

Mercader: Thank you for the opportunity.

Cruz: So, what can you tell us about the situation on the island right now?

Mercader: Well, as you know everyone has seen by now that Hurricane Maria basically caused a lot of devastation. Right now, we are in the process of accessing all of the damages caused by the hurricane and obviously trying to make sure that everyone is safe, that no one is going through a crisis in a sense. That they aren’t staying in a place that is high-risk, or there’s flooding or landslides. And, we are making sure that in terms of the infrastructure we’re able to start providing assistance in the recovery of the communications on the island,  the electric energy and the water. Right now, we have a very sharp issue on the communication side. Right now we are not to use most of the cell phone antennas that were struck down by the hurricane. And also in terms of the electric energy, about 100 percent of the customers are without electricity right now, so we’re working on that.

Cruz: What would you say is the biggest need right now?

Mercader: I would say the biggest need is on the electric energy. We need generators, we need equipment to rebuild that infrastructure. And also on the side of the supplies, water, basic hygiene materials or supplies, those are the basic needs. If you give me any chance I would like to mention that we started a campaign, championed by the first lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Areizaga. It’s called United For Puerto Rico.

Cruz: There are so many people here in New Jersey who still can’t reach their family members in Puerto Rico. Is there a number where they can call to try to get some updated information in that regard?

Mercader: Yes, they can call my office. It’s 202-800-3133.

Cruz: Alright. Carlos Mercader, spokesperson for Gov. Rosselló of Puerto Rico. Carlos, thanks very much and we wish you continued luck.

Mercader: Thank you. We will rebuild, but we need help.