Puerto Rican in Iowa Responds to Lack of Federal Aid on Island

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Puerto Rico is home to Christina Fernandez-Morrow’s extended family. She has only heard from them once since Hurricane Maria slammed into the island nearly two weeks ago.

“We have no idea what the damage is like, what they lost, whether they have food and water, and if they do, how long it will last them,” she says. “They are not near San Juan so we are guessing that help isn't going to reach them any time soon.

Fernandez-Morrow’s aunts and uncles live in a city 90 miles northwest of the capitol city of San Juan, and she says the federal government's slow response towards relief efforts is a matter of life and death.

“You feel helpless. I feel angry that is happening. There should have been a plan.”

Hurricane Maria left roughly half the island with access to safe drinking water; meanwhile, officials say only 5% of residents have electricity.

Last week, President Trump and the mayor of San Juan went toe-to-toe. On social media, the president accused the mayor of poor leadership after asking for more federal assistance. That assistance, Fernandez-Morrow says, will play a role in helping the island rebuild.

“It’s going to be a global effort and it needs to be led by the U.S., and if it isn't, why would any other nation care?”

She also questioned why the country’s leader is choosing to keep the U.S. territory on the back-burner of disaster relief.

“We have the means, but right now I don't think we have the leadership to make that will happen," said Fernandez-Morrow.

Latest numbers show there are more than 10,000 federal workers on the ground in Puerto Rico.