Several trailers that were filled with donations for victims of the deadly Hurricane Maria were found rotting in a parking lot of state elections office in Puerto Rico.
At least 10 trailers that were filled with food, water and baby supplies were broken up and were infested with rats and lizards.
The revelation was made by local radio station, Radio Isla, after they uploaded a video of the rotten food supplies covered in animal droppings. The trailers were reportedly parked at San Juan offices of the local elections commission.
At the time when the natural disaster struck the island, elections commission offices were used as a collection center for stocking donations that poured in from across the country.
After collecting the goods, they were distributed to needy victims by the National Guard. When the crisis became less intense, the donations were stocked up in trailers and now it shows that they were never delivered to people.
Now, no authority is ready to take responsibility of the carelessness.
National Guard spokesman, Paul Dahlen, said the donations came in May and by then they had ended their mission on the island. On the other hand, elections commission head said he had been inquiring about the trailers and contacted the National Guard several times but didn’t get any information.
“I agree, it should have been handed out as soon as possible. The containers have been there for a long time, but they weren’t necessarily filled at all times. The good thing is now that thanks to investigative journalism, it will help move along the process and get it where it needs to go in the coming days,” he said.
They later defended themselves by saying that the supplies were expired and said the donations that were fine, such as batteries and electric fans, would be supplied to non-profit groups soon.
Puerto Rico’s first lady, Beatriz Rosselló, founded a donation group called United for Puerto Rico that helped victims of the hurricane. However, the group said they had no knowledge of the donations.
“Whatever was left after the National Guard left was put in those containers. In one of these containers was food for dogs and apparently several of the boxes were broken. After the placement in the van, that brings a lot of rats and it infected everything,” said Nicolás Gautier, interim president of the elections council.
Puerto Rico’s population of 3.5 million faced severe power outages, as well as shortages of water, food, and fuel. Hurricane Maria devastated homes, snapped power lines and turned roadways into torrents laden with debris.
The catastrophe naturally had a very negative impact on the survivors of the destruction and the negligence of U.S. government only made the matter worse.
Banner: Reuters, Carlos Garcia Rawlins