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USFWS Southeast fire crew conducting chainsaw operations for the recovery of the El Yunque National Forest, PR after Hurricane Irma. Photo by José M. Martínez, USFWS.

Long road

Puerto Rico faces immense challenges after Maria

Puerto Rico faces a “long road” toward recovery after Hurricane Maria, federal officials said Monday.

That road has hardly begun. The island remains without power. Water shortages are critical. People are hungry.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is scrambling to help. In a conference call Monday, Service employees said they are mobilizing teams, have already sent needed supplies and plan to do more to help the island restore some of life’s basic necessities.

The weather, meantime, is cooperating – if only temporarily. The forecast for the next couple of days calls for clear skies and sun before rains return.

Even so, parts of the island remain under flood watch after massive rains Maria dumped on mountains and plains.

The forecast also calls for highs ranging from mid-80s Fahrenheit to the 90s, with a heat index topping 100. “It’s a very inhospitable environment,” said Service meteorologist Kevin Scasny.

At present, the Service has sent four law enforcement officers from Miami to Puerto Rico, and anticipates two more will join them. Officers already on the ground are helping clear roads and checking on employees and their homes.

Responding to a request for help from Vieques’ mayor, the Service oversaw the airdrop of water and MREs (meals ready to eat). The drop was scheduled to take place Sunday.

The Service also has five additional teams ready to head to Puerto Rico. One is supposed to leave Tuesday, with the others standing by.

Maria, meantime, remains on the move. National wildlife refuges in coastal North Carolina on Monday were under a tropical storm warning.


Mark Davis, Public affairs specialist, (404) 679-7291

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 Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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