Saturday, September 30, 2017

They've collected tons of supplies for Puerto Rico, but they can't get a plane to deliver them

TAMPA — More than 100 tons of food and water sat in a packed hangar this weekend waiting to be flown to Puerto Rico.

There are more warehouses just like this one across the bay area, stocked with diapers, food, generators and bottled water donated by Floridians to ease the suffering of millions. Volunteers on the devastated American territory are waiting, already coordinating with churches to ensure the so desperately needed goods go to the right people.

The only thing missing is the actual plane to deliver the supplies.

Volunteers say a mess of bureaucracy and false promises from a private charter company have left them exhausted, frustrated and desperate to get the items they've collected to the struggling island that was devastated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20.

"I've started to reach out to every celebrity I can think of," said Yvette Cowdrey, a former station manager for Frontier Airlines who volunteered to help organize the effort. "We are not looking for a handout, just for a connection. We have people in Puerto Rico waiting on us."

For nearly a week, volunteers say the Peruvian company that was supposed to come to ferry the supplies in a DC-8 hasn't shown up. They said delays caused by complicated regulations and unforeseen circumstances has stalled the relief effort.

"We have three warehouses filled with donations," Cowdrey said, "and the donations are still coming in. We are running out of space for it."

The DC-8 can hold the equivalent of 108 wooden pallets of supplies. The plan was to fly it back and forth from Tampa International Airport until all the supplies had been dropped off. The plane is just a few hours away in Greensboro, N.C., organizers said.

It was supposed to land on Monday. They were told on Saturday it would be coming that day, but some were losing faith in that ever happening.

"I hope we're not getting scammed," said Thomas Black, who owns T Black Aviation in Clearwater.

Black, who served in the Air Force for 23 years, said he's even contacted the Puerto Rican National Guard to see if it could fly in C-130 transport planes to pick up the supplies.

"They haven't said no, they just have to get authorization," Black said.

He's not sure how long that will take.

Organizer Max Chesler, a dispatcher who specializes in logistics for Menzies Airlines and is volunteering to help the effort, got off the phone Friday night with the charter company and relayed the latest delay from North Carolina.

"Now they are saying they can't fly to Puerto Rico because one of the crew members doesn't speak Spanish," Chesler said to a half dozen volunteers at the Pemco World Air Services hangar at Tampa International.

There has also been confusion about exactly what has been holding up the plane.

At one point some organizers thought the Jones Act, the 1920 regulation that requires goods be shipped from one American port to another with American crews and vessels, hampered the relief flights to San Juan. But others weren't sure if it applied to aircraft, and on Thursday the Trump administration waived that rule for Puerto Rico anyway.

Other volunteers believed that still more permits needed to be worked out, but none could explain those issues in detail.

For Cowdrey, who was born in Mayaguez and lived on the island for 20 years, the delays are heart wrenching.

"I've got family on the east and west sides of the island," she said. "My mom is in Río Piedras. I'm worried about her."

She hopes one of the celebrities she's tried to reach over social media might heed her pleas to help secure a plane. She has faith something will come through soon and continues to organize and collect supplies.

Her latest request? Adult bicycles, so people can travel despite gas shortages.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. San Juan mayor is part of the problem, both before and post hurricane.

  2. Video reporting shows stacks of ocean containers filled with relief supplies in the container port. Only 10% of truck drivers have reported for distribution.
    Our President is correct; this is a local problem Carmen Yulin Cruz should be resolving, not D.C.
    Shameful Carmen Yulin Cruz is using her 15 minutes of fame to join the ever popular chorus of bashers at the peril of the Puerto Rican people.

  3. #1. Puerto Rico has been a financial mess for years and most of its capable people/leaders have bailed out, mostly to Florida.
    #2. Puerto Rico's infrastructure has been neglected (the Puerto Rico government is in bankruptcy and has defaulted on its loans) while tax money has gone to vote buying social programs and pensions.
    #3. Compare how the local government in Texas and Florida responded to recent hurricanes compared to Puerto Rico.
    Trump is right ... Puerto Rico is one step being another Venezuela ... Another classic example that the liberal government model does not work.

  4. “The level of devastation and the impact on the first responders we closely work with was so great that those people were having to take care of their families and homes to an extent we don’t normally see,” said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want his statement to be interpreted as criticism of authorities in Puerto Rico.
    “The Department of Defense, FEMA and the federal government are having to step in to fulfill state and municipal functions that we normally just support.”


  5. "In the US Virgin Islands, which are exempt from the law, US-made goods are about half as expensive, while the cost of living in Puerto Rico is 13 percent higher than on the American mainland. Food on Puerto Rico costs twice as much as it does in Florida, and that’s before the devastation of the island’s agriculture by Hurricane Maria."


  6. A sweetheart deal for Texas with the Federal taxpayer paying for over 90% of their recovery cost.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott negotiated a 90/10 split (90% fed funds, 10% local funds) with FEMA following Harvey. Florida is getting a 75/25 split with FEMA after Irma.

    Typically, the federal government takes on 75 percent of the costs, leaving 25 percent to the local government. Abbott's office took credit for negotiating a 90-10 split instead that would save local Texas governments 60 percent of typical reimbursement cost.

    The federal government has agreed to reimburse the state for 100 percent of the money spent on emergency protective measures - such as paying overtime pay for police and firefighters - in the first 30 days of the storm response, said FEMA spokesman Marty Bahamonde.

    Gov. Abbott also said if Texas taps into their Rainy Day Fund to help with recovery following Hurricane Harvey, it won't be until the next legislative session.

  7. President Trump is correct, but far too gentle about it. I'll add this: Over 85% of Puerto Ricans are bankrupt, crushingly-indebted, Spanish-speaking Democrat Socialists. A burden to all foolish enough to give or lend to them.

    If Hillary "Gun Ban & Benghazi" Clinton had been elected, many billions of taxpayer dollars would be thrown to bankrupt, impossibly-indebted Spanish Democrat Socialists. Said Spanish Democrat Socialists would respond by trampling those who help them, just as they've trampled those to whom they're so deeply indebted. I'm grateful every single day that Benghazi-Clinton was soundly defeated.

  8. LOL . . . . and this mayor is too stupid to follow the chain of command. She is nothing, everything runs through the Governor, who by the way says everything is going as planned.

  9. Just four days ago San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto praised FEMA for the work on the island.

    But Caren Yuliz Cruz Soto is a Democrat so she expects everything to be given to her for free.
    On Friday she went out on all of the liberal mainstream news outlets and trashed President Trump.

    San Juan Mayor: “I’m mad as hell because my people’s lives are at stake… We are dying, and you (President Trump) are killing us with inefficiency”

    The San Juan mayor accused FEMA and President Trump of offering her no help. She said this in front of a pallet of US aid.

    For the record… Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz has refused to visit the FEMA headquarters after several invitations and is not participating in ANY FEMA meetings.


    On Saturday FOX News contributor Geraldo Rivera interviewed Mayor Cruz and then tweeted this: San Juan Mayor says residents are "dying," and somehow President Trump is to blame. I'm here. Who is dying? Why? Where? Let me help save them.


    San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz is a staunch Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

    The Dems and the media are pushing for Puerto Rico statehood. Fine and dandy these Puerto Rican leaders support Dems but they have zero electoral votes! Puerto Rico was already in massive debt, so they are trying to become a state so all American taxpayers take on the burden. I hope Puerto Rico never becomes a state.