Chaos in Puerto Rico as Mob Finds Unused Disaster Supplies Sitting in Warehouse Since Hurricane Maria Struck in 2017

Puerto Rico
The governor of Puerto Rico fired the island’s emergency manager, Carlos Acevedo, hours after a warehouse filled with supplies believed to be from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in September 2017. Locals in Ponce, a city still suffering from the devastation of Maria, broke into the warehouse and demanded the emergency supplies and numerous pallets of bottled water. Last week, an earthquake rocked the island, causing $200 million in damage while forcing more than 7,000 people to seek refuge in outdoor shelters.

An angry crowd in earthquake-rattled Puerto Rico stormed a warehouse Saturday after learning that it contained a stash of emergency supplies — that had been sitting untouched since Hurricane Maria slammed the island in 2017.

The chaos in the historic city of Ponce comes just one week after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the island, which has yet to recover from the devastation of Maria — a category 5 hurricane that killed more than 3,000 people and left much of the country without electricity.

Word of the squandered supplies spread online Saturday after blogger Lorenzo Delgado posted a video on Facebook of locals breaking into the warehouse, which is shown to be holding cases of bottled water and other emergency supplies.

Locals are seen hauling cases out of the warehouse, and — in one image — distributing the supplies to a throng of people outside.

“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 said.

The discovery prompted Gov. Wanda Vazquez to fire the island’s director of emergency management, Carlos Acevedo, and to order a full investigation into the matter.

“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,” Vazquez said, noting that the supplies had been in the warehouse since Maria.

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