The act will allow foreign ships to land in Puerto Rico ports.
President Donald Trump’s administration has finally waived the Jones Act, which will allow foreign ships to bring aid to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico.
The Jones Act has been enforced since its inception in 1920. It states that any goods transported by water into U.S. ports must come in on ships made in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, have American crews.
From The Wall Street Journal:
On Thursday morning, the Trump administration and DHS announced that a waiver to the Jones Act, which was blocking foreign-flagged vessels from shipping relief supplies to Puerto Rico, had been issued. The reason was “in the interest of the nation’s defense,” according to DHS spokesman David Lapan. Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, ravaged the island last week, destroying its electrical grid and leaving it desperately short of food, clean water and fuel.
The Jones Act waiver, which is good for 10 days, will allow foreign-flagged ships, to bring aid to Puerto Rico from U.S. ports and from foreign ports. Lawmakers from Puerto Rico and the U.S. sought the request because aid can be delivered at a lower cost from other nations.
“This waiver will ensure that over the next 10 days, all options are available to move and distribute goods to the people of Puerto Rico. It is intended to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms,” said Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke in a statement.
Hurricane Maria wiped out electricity on the entire island that houses 3.4 million people. The people have also been without clean water or phone service, making it hard for them to reach family members in the states.
The administration waved the law after Harvey hit Texas and Irma hit Florida so ships could bring in petroleum.
Puerto Rico Needs Help
Vital aid sits in 9,500 storage containers in San Juan because the island has a shortage of truck drivers to deliver it. Plus, the “devastated infrastructure” on the island makes it hard to move the aid to those who need it most. The lack of diesel fuel also means no fuel for trucks to move the aid if they can. Without phone service, officials cannot contact the truck drivers they do have.
The medical community is also lacking supplies and people. CNN interviewed Dr. María Rodriguez at the Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza in the northeast part of the island. At the time of the interview, published today, the hospital only has six hours of diesel fuel left. The hospital provides healthcare to the poor, but they may have to shut down.
Emergency medicine physician Dr. Robert Fuller, who works at the University of Connecticut and International Medical Corp, arrived in Puerto Rico to help out. From CNN:
He sees plenty of good doctors and nurses on the island, so it’s not a matter of human resources. “It’s a matter of getting the medications and treatments to the people,” Fuller says. It’s also a matter of being able to move around and get services to people, which cannot happen without fuel.
In the shortest term, people with diabetes who don’t have access to the right food and medication will be most vulnerable, Fuller says. A week without insulin, which requires refrigeration and a needle, can lead to a coma, which in turn can lead to death, he says. People relying on dialysis may also be in trouble.
The children’s hospital in San Juan has received plenty of diesel fuel from other hospitals and personnel worked together to either discharge or transfer 45 sick children.
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