A week after the 6.4-magnitude earthquake, an angry crowd stormed a warehouse in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Jan. 17, learning it contained intact supplies stored since Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in 2017, the New York Post reported.
Last week’s earthquake killed at least one person and caused an estimated $200 million in damage, while forcing more than 7,000 people to seek shelter.
News of the wasted supplies spread over the weekend after social network users posted videos showing locals breaking into the warehouse containing boxes of bottled water and other emergency supplies.
A group of residents opened the metal doors of the building and demanded that authorities distribute the supplies found. By the evening of that day, families began queuing outside the warehouse, hoping to get water, food, and emergency radios.
“This is outrageous,” Ponce Mayor Maria Melendez told reporters. “Everyone knows what us mayors went through after Hurricane Maria and to try and get help to our cities and how we’ve worked these weeks to provide basic supplies to people affected by earthquakes.”
“Those involved owe us an explanation,” she added.
Meanwhile, island Gov. Wanda Vazquez Garced asked the Puerto Rican Senate to appoint Jose Reyes, chief of the island’s national guard, as the new emergency management commissioner after firing Carlos Acevedo and asked that an investigation be opened to clarify what happened.
Secretary of State Elmer Roman told Univision Saturday that there may also be other warehouses on the island with unused supplies.
While Democrats have criticized the U.S. federal government’s action in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the Trump administration gave abundant resources to the island’s recovery.
President Donald Trump has criticized on more than one occasion the excessive requests for money by Puerto Rican politicians and has condemned the corruption on the island as the order of the day.
Most of the media also joined the voices criticizing President Trump for the aid to Puerto Rico after the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria.
However, not only were large sums of money sent to him from the United States, but also emergency supplies that were apparently not distributed to the victims.
In 2018, Radio Isla published video footage of the humanitarian aid sent by the United States—10 complete trailers—abandoned in an electoral office.
The footage shows food, medicine, and baby items destined for the island unopened, covered in rodent droppings or partially eaten by rats and lizards.