The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) just defended their bumbling response to the devastation in Puerto Rico by claiming that it is not its job to distribute food and water to starving Americans.
The comment came after producers from Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program reported that FEMA had yet to deliver any aid to the residents of Aibonito, Puerto Rico, despite the fact that Hurricane Maria hit three weeks ago. The community is only an hour away from the capital city of San Juan and did not suffer from any blocked roads.
“Relief supplies are being delivered to regional staging areas and mayors are largely responsible for pick up and distribution,” FEMA officials told Maddow’s program.
FEMA did not offer any ideas as to how the mayor was supposed to manage such a widespread operation without electricity, cell phones, or the proper vehicles.
Less than 60% of Puerto Ricans have access to drinking water, and 85% of them have no electricity. “Residents (of Aibonito) celebrated because they thought our producers were from FEMA,” Maddow said on her program last night. “They were not from FEMA.”
“It’s been hard, really hard to find food these days,” said one Puerto Rican resident from another community facing similar problems. “People are suffering a lot and I have lost all the food I saved for two weeks.”
FEMA has visited Aibonito three times, but only to help residents fill out applications for federal aid and once more to meet with the mayor to “identify the town’s needs and fill out a report.”
FEMA seemed to have no problem distributing food and water after Hurricane Harvey and Irma in the mainland. In Lakeland, FL, FEMA handed out free food and water at 11 different sites.