All U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers found in battered Puerto Rico
The going has been hard, the searches exhausting, but the efforts of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers dispatched to Puerto have borne fruit: All of the Service’s 61 employees on the crippled island are OK.
That was the highlight of Thursday’s conference call on the status of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the category 4 hurricane that smashed into the U.S. territory last week. Crews have tracked down all the Service workers, some cut off from communications and travel following the storm’s vicious passage.
At the same time, Service workers are trying to help Puerto Rico recover from an array of problems – impassable roads, the lack of food and water, immense power outages, fuel shortages and communications that are, at best, spotty. Theft is an increasing concern, too: Generators are in such demand that people are stealing them.
The lack of water is especially worrying, said rescue workers. At Cabo Rojo, for example, water has not been available for three days.
Fuel supplies are hardly better. Only two fuel depots, both run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are operating. They are in San Juan – far from some areas that need fuel the most.
Not all the news in Thursday’s call was bad.
Service law enforcement officers distributed a “fair amount” of water and MREs (meals ready to eat) on Wednesday, said Service Officer David Pharo. He and his colleagues plan on conducting more search operations with other federal officials Thursday.
Additional flights are readying to head to Puerto Rico, too. One should lift off from Pompano Beach, Florida, Thursday afternoon. Others will follow this weekend.
Five airports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are now open.
Mark Davis, Public Affairs Specialist
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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.