AP

Discovery of unused disaster supplies angers Puerto Rico

Jan 19, 2020, 5:28 PM
Storage of unused supplies in Puerto Rico...
A tent city set up by the US army reserve stands in Guanica, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. A 6.4 magnitude quake that toppled or damaged hundreds of homes in southwestern Puerto Rico is raising concerns about where displaced families will live, while the island still struggles to rebuild from Hurricane Maria two years ago. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — People in a southern Puerto Rico city discovered a warehouse filled with water, cots and other unused emergency supplies, then set off a social media uproar Saturday when they broke in to retrieve goods as the area struggles to recover from a strong earthquake.

With anger spreading in the U.S. territory after video of the event in Ponce appeared on Facebook, Gov. Wanda Vázquez quickly fired the director of the island’s emergency management agency.

The governor said she had ordered an investigation after learning the emergency supplies had been piled in the warehouse since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017.

Vázquez said inaction by the fired official, Carlos Acevedo, was unacceptable.

“There are thousands of people who have made sacrifices to help those in the south, and it is unforgivable that resources were kept in the warehouse,” the governor said.

Puerto Rico’s secretary of state, Elmer Román, told reporters that Acevedo had not told him about the contents of the warehouse.

News of the warehouse spread after online blogger Lorenzo Delgado relayed live video on Facebook of people breaking into the building. The scene became chaotic at times as people pushed their way in and began distributing water, baby food and other goods to those affected by the earthquake.

Delgado later told reporters that he had received a tip about the warehouse, but gave no specifics on when.

The mayor of Ponce, María Meléndez, said he had not known about the warehouse and its contents.

“This is outrageous,” she said. “Everyone knows what us mayors went through after Hurricane Maria 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.”

Inés Rivera, spokeswoman for the city of Ponce, told The Associated Press that the warehouse is owned by Puerto Rico’s Company of Commerce and Export. Officials with the company could not be reached for comment.

The information upset many in Puerto Rico already angry over the government’s botched response to Hurricane Maria, with similar incidents of supplies going unused being uncovered months later.

Ponce is one of several cities in the island’s southern region hit by the recent 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed one person and caused more than an estimated $200 million in damage. More than 7,000 people remain in shelters since the quake.

The governor said she has sent the Senate her nomination of José Reyes, who oversees the National Guard in Puerto Rico, to be the new commissioner for the State Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Management.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a heari...
JIM HEINTZ Associated Press

Russian media: Griner pleads guilty in Russia drugs trial

MOSCOW (AP) — Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner on Thursday pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling during her trial in Moscow but said she had no intention of committing a crime, Russian news agencies reported. The reports quoted Griner as saying through an interpreter at the court hearing that she had acted unintentionally […]
10 hours ago
Dozens of mourners gather for a vigil near Central Avenue and St. Johns Avenue in downtown Highland...
By MICHAEL TARM, KATHLEEN FOODY and STEPHEN GROVES Associated Press

Police: Parade shooting suspect contemplated 2nd shooting

The suspect in the Highland Park parade shooting confessed to police that he fired on the crowd, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
1 day ago
This June 5, 2013, image provided by the California Department of Water Resources shows a drip irri...
JESSICA DAMIANO Associated Press

Tips for growing a healthy garden during drought

Watering needs for plants could increase during periods of extreme heat, when the soil dries out more quickly.
2 days ago
Two members of the FBI move items from the scene at the Highland Park shooting...
MICHAEL TARM, KATHLEEN FOODY and STEPHEN GROVES Associated Press

Police: Gunman fired more than 70 rounds at July 4 parade, 7 dead

Police gave no motive for the attack in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago's north shore.
2 days ago
Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has gobbled his way to a 15th win at the Natha...
By JENNIFER PELTZ and JULIA NIKHINSON Associated Press

Joey Chestnut is chomp champ again in July 4 hot dog contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut put a protester in a chokehold while gobbling his way to a 15th win Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, powering down 63 hot dogs and buns at the annual exhibition of excess. In a decisive chowdown comeback, women’s record-holder […]
3 days ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

July 4 has arrived as many citizens struggle to find a reason to celebrate. Yet many also see cause for celebration, including President Joe Biden.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Discovery of unused disaster supplies angers Puerto Rico