Blog Briefing Room

FEMA confirms millions of water bottles for hurricane relief were left at Puerto Rico airport

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said this week that millions of water bottles meant for victims of Hurricane Maria have been left undistributed at an airport in Puerto Rico for more than a year. 

CBS News journalist David Begnaud reported on Wednesday that FEMA acknowledged that loads of water bottles were brought to the island in 2017 in the wake of the hurricane and that it turned them over to the "central government." 

However, a photographer working for a Puerto Rican police agency, Abdiel Santana, noticed that the water was still sitting at the airport runway one year later, according to Begnaud.

"FEMA says the water, and we're talking what could be millions of bottles of water, were brought to the island by FEMA last year. FEMA tells me the water was turned over to the central government," Begnaud said in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday night.

"The question is what happened after that. Where was the breakdown?" Begnaud asked.

He added that "the water was kept in an area that was pretty hard-hit during the storm and could have used all the water they could have gotten." 

The finding comes as the Trump administration continues to face scrutiny over its response to the hurricane, which ravaged Puerto Rico.

According to an independent study conducted by George Washington University, nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane - a number that represents a sharp increase from the initial estimate of 64. 

It led Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to update the official death count in late August.

Trump on Tuesday said that the government did a "fantastic" job in its response to Hurricane Maria, a comment that quickly led to a wave of criticism from lawmakers. 

"Success? Federal response according to Trump in Puerto Rico a success?" San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted. "If he thinks the death of 3,000 people [is] a success God help us all."

The Trump administration is currently preparing for Hurricane Florence's landfall in the Carolinas and Virginia later this week. 

"Hurricane Florence is looking even bigger than anticipated. It will be arriving soon. FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement are supplied and ready. Be safe!" Trump tweeted early Wednesday.

Updated at 11:27 a.m.

Outbrain
View desktop version