The Jones Act requires that material shipped from one part of the United States to another travel only on ships that are registered in the United States. That limits the ships that can potentially deliver supplies in Puerto Rico to a small fraction of the available fleet, as most ships in the region are not US ships. It has been waved several times in the past, including lifting the law so that foreign oil tankers could dock following Hurricane Harvey.
Which makes the reaction in this case more of a mystery.
The Department of Homeland Security, which waived the act after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, did not agree an exemption would help this time. …
The refusal to allow the waiver “is raising fears on the island that they are going to be left behind in this disaster.”
Claims that damaged ports are the biggest limit may well be accurate, but lifting the Jones Act still strikes many as vital, especially considering the scale and duration of the emergency.
"It is unacceptable to force the people of Puerto Rico to pay at least twice as much for food, clean drinking water, supplies and infrastructure due to Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster," McCain wrote.
A failure to deliver adequate supplies by sea has kept conditions across Puerto Rico on the edge of catastrophe with some of the damage still to be discovered. With federal workers on the island still less than a third of those who were sent to Texas following Hurricane Harvey and almost none of the volunteer forces that descended in number on both Florida and Texas following recent hurricanes, actions in Puerto Rico have so far been almost entirely limited to the area around the capital, with very little help reaching out across the remainder of the island.
“People say FEMA is going to help us,” Valentin said Tuesday as she showed Associated Press journalists around the sodden wreckage of her home. “We’re waiting.”
Many others are also waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help.
Hospitals are without power and supplies. Many roads are washed out. Power and communications down. Across much of Puerto Rico, the grade given government reaction is anything but “great.”
The roads are passable now but the community is still isolated. “Nobody has visited, not from the government, not from the city, no one,” said Antonio Velez, a 64-year-old who has lived there his entire life.
The same complaint echoed throughout the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, the first town Maria hit as it barreled across the island with 155 mph winds.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” said 58-year-old retiree Angel Luis Rodriguez. “I’ve lost everything, and no one has shown up to see if anyone lives here.”
This is one instance when every American would love to see Donald Trump genuinely doing a competent, complete, and thoughtful job. However, at the moment he seems to be more interested in telling everyone how great he’s doing, than actually doing anything great.
“There’s been no help from the mayor or from the federal government,” said 64-year-old retiree Maria Rodriguez as she held a coconut in her right hand and took sips from it. “After Georges hit us (in 1998), they responded quickly. But now? Nothing. We need water and food.”