A three-star general and thousands of troops are headed to Puerto Rico, following growing criticism to the initial response to what’s now considered a humanitarian crisis.
Air travel remains restricted, communication crippled and infrastructure devastated after Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory.
Critical supplies remain stuck at the port of San Juan, amid reports of a trucker shortages and lack of diesel fuel.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” said Diane Rodriguez, monitoring the situation from Issaquah.
“I know something needs to be done, needs to be figured out. We need to get all the supplies moving to the people who need it so bad.”
Rodriguez is especially worried about her elderly grandfather in Puerto Rico who suffered a stroke earlier this year and relies on an oxygen tank.
“They have him connected to a generator. They’re having a hard time finding gas to keep the generator up and running. Somehow, they’ve been managing the lines to get the gas.”
However, now she says he’s running low on oxygen, and she’s struggling to get updates from family members with so many cell phone towers still down.
“We’re trying to do everything we can from here,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez contacted the office of Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington. A spokesman says staffers are trying to help constituents work with FEMA to try and contact loved ones on the island.
Cantwell serves as ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which oversees Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other territories.
Meanwhile, the Washington National Guard has sent airmen to the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide help on the ground. The state's National Guard has also sent special communications equipment to Puerto Rico and will soon send additional supplies, including tents and cots.
A West Seattle baseball coach has started his own individual aid effort, collecting supplies from his community, ranging from flashlights to diapers.
“FEMA and the government of Puerto Rico, they’re trying to get things done, but I’m not going to wait for none of that,” said Rey Delgado.
Delgado, whose family lives in Puerto Rico, plans to travel there on Monday and deliver as many supplies as he can carry in a suitcase.
Delgado said Puerto Ricans are still struggling with rationed supplies and gas.
“It’s hours of lines. So, my brother goes to one line. My daddy goes to another to get ice to keep things cold, to get gas,” said Delgado. “It’s continuously hours in lines. It’s very painful for people to do that.”