The island was devastated by Hurricane Maria this month, as that storm's powerful winds knocked out much of the infrastructure in the country, leaving most of Puerto Rico's 3.6 million inhabitants with no food, water, or power.
They are expected to be in Puerto Rico for 30 days, but could be there longer if needed.
- The USS Wasp, carrying three MH-60 helicopters, is en route to Puerto Rico and will embark 10 additional aircraft. "Our cooperation and collaboration with the entire federal family - the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, the Department of Energy - all that is on display on the effort that we are going through every day to provide the support and response and recovery to Puerto Rico".
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"I think if there are a number of Virgin Islanders who are not subject to immigration control who live in Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands - if they are sufficient so that we can send a charter flight to take them out of Puerto Rico because Puerto Rico is hit badly. We can do those things", Skelton said.
Those problems will not be alleviated by waiving the federal Jones Act so that foreign-flagged ships can freely transport more goods into Puerto Rico. Critics had charged the government was slow to do this for Puerto Rico. Clearing cargo deliveries at the San Juan port remained slow, and several newly arrived tankers were waiting for a chance to unload their fuel, according to Thomson Reuters shipping data.
Having a commander who reports both to the governor and the military chain of command will create a "unified team" of military and civilian disaster response units, Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration during the Obama administration, said in a phone interview. The military has delivered fuel to nine hospitals and helped establish more than 100 distribution centers for food and water on the island, the Pentagon said on Thursday. One is deemed fully operational, 59 are functional, though partially degraded, four hospitals are closed, and five more hospitals are still undergoing assessment.
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