David Begnaud of CBS News tweeted a horrifying picture that showed what could be millions of water bottles sitting on a Puerto Rican airport strip. These items were reportedly donated to victims of Hurricane Maria but apparently did not make it to the victims at all. Instead, the water bottles are still sitting on the runway a year later.
Begnaud posted on Twitter “BREAKING: What may be millions of water bottles. meant for victims of Hurricane Maria, have been sitting on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, since last year, according to @FEMA, which confirmed the news to me, late tonight, after pictures, posted today on social media, went viral.”
BREAKING: What may be millions of water bottles. meant for victims of Hurricane Maria, have been sitting on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, since last year, according to @FEMA, which confirmed the news to me, late tonight, after pictures, posted today on social media, went viral. pic.twitter.com/jidGJAvCyJ
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 12, 2018
The pictures are even worse, showing stacks of cases of bottled water just sitting there. If this supply of water was designated for victims of Hurricane Maria, which claimed almost 3,000 lives, then someone seriously messed up in the logistics to deliver.
The airport is located in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. This is actually more than one year after the storm. The photographs were taken by Abdiel Santana. He works with the United Forces of Rapid Action agency section of the Puerto Rican Police. “Santana said he snapped the photos because he was angry to still see them sitting there, nearly a year after he first spotted them. Santana told CBS News he took pictures of the bottles last fall, but has not provided those photos yet.”
The federal government is taking heat for this as the government of Puerto Rico is trying to blame the mismanagement on the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA. “A senior FEMA official told CBS News’ David Begnaud that “if [FEMA] put that water on that runway there will be hell to pay … If we did that, we’re going to fess up to it.”
Begnaud later reported that Marty Bahamonde has confirmed that FEMA delivered the water, but was not tracking the specific shipments. Bahamonde is the director of disaster operations. This possibly means that FEMA delivered the water, but perhaps local resources might have been in charge of delivering the water to victims/survivors. FEMA is investigating who put the water on the runway.
Another voice jumped in. It was Carlos Mercader who is the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. He pointed out that FEMA had missteps while handling the water and should have given the drinks to the victims themselves. He then said that FEMA should have listed the water bottles as “excess inventory.”
I’m not sure what else someone would consider that much water sitting for a year. What did they think it was for? It’s been sitting outside for a year, obviously, it was delivered to be given to people on the island. Common sense would figure that out considering it was delivered just after the storm.
The GSA administrator for Puerto Rico, Ottmar Chávez, said FEMA reported it had the excess bottled water before he took control. Chávez said he only became aware of the bottled water on Tuesday and does not know why it is there, how it got there or how long it has been there. He now says he would like FEMA to take responsibility for the water because his agency has received two complaints about the taste and smell of the water.
Barceloneta is one of the municipalities that complained about the taste and odor of the water. Mayor Wanda Soler Rosario office said her office was “surprised by the reports” and denied having ever made a complaint. “I want to clarify that at no time was any verbal or written information submitted that represented a complaint about the water we received,” Rosario said in a statement to CBS News.
Now it seems like people are blaming each other because someone, somewhere, messed up big time.
One has to wonder if the Mayor of San Juan, the lady who wore the “NASTY” shirt and was in a verbal sparring match with President Trump caused such a big distraction last year that someone down the line managed to forget about all that water delivered to help Puerto Rican victims.
All that criticism people threw at President Trump and his response to natural disasters and here we find what could be millions of water bottles just sitting there for a year straight in Puerto Rico.
Maybe if people paid more attention to their job and less attention to getting caught up in the whirlwind of trashing presidents, then maybe people would be more focused.
I am not claiming that’s what happened, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if that’s what happened.
The federal government's response to Hurricane Maria is under fresh scrutiny over photos showing what appear to be millions of water bottles meant for victims still sitting on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, more than one year after the storm. https://t.co/FELDA0mw02 pic.twitter.com/wtkDUeSsCl
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 12, 2018