Friday, September 29, 2017

U.S. Appoints General to Oversee Military Response to Puerto Rico Disaster

Woman collects water pouring from pipe (Credit: © Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
The Pentagon named a senior general to command military relief operations in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Thursday, and the Trump administration sent a Cabinet emissary to the island as U.S. lawmakers called for a more robust response to the crisis.

The U.S. territory of 3.4 million people struggled through a ninth day with virtually no electricity, patchy communications, and shortages of fuel, clean water, and other essentials in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit the island in nearly 90 years.

The storm struck on Sept. 20 with lethal, roof-ripping force and torrential rains that caused widespread flooding and heavily damaged homes, roads, and other infrastructure.

The storm killed more than 30 people across the Caribbean, including at least 16 in Puerto Rico.  Governor Ricardo Rossello has called the island’s devastation unprecedented.

The U.S. military, which has poured thousands of troops into the relief effort, named Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan on Thursday to oversee its response on the island.

Buchanan, Army chief for the military’s U.S. Northern Command, was expected to arrive in Puerto Rico later on Thursday.  He will be the Pentagon’s main liaison with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. government’s lead agency on the island, and focus on aid distribution, the Pentagon said in a statement.

FEMA has already placed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of rebuilding the island’s crippled power grid, which has posed one of the island’s biggest challenges after the storm.

In yet another move raising the administration’s profile in the crisis, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, whose department includes FEMA, will visit Puerto Rico on Friday with other senior government officials to meet the governor, Puerto Rican authorities and federal relief workers, her office announced.

Read more at U.S. Appoints General to Oversee Military Response to Puerto Rico Disaster

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