A plane carrying resources to Puerto Rico took off Friday morning from a Miami airfield. Loaded with generators, the cargo plane was chartered by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
AHF, the world’s largest organization serving people living with HIV/AIDS, owns a clinic in San Juan, the Puerto Rican capital city.
“Having been in constant, but challenging communication with our staff in Puerto Rico, as well as continually monitoring the situation since Hurricane Irma initially hit the island, I was very aware of how frustratingly slow the response by relief organizations has been, while the needs of the people continue to rise,” said Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief in a news release.
On Friday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump called the aftermath on the island a “catastrophic crisis.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Trump said in a speech in Washington, adding we are literally “starting from scratch.” Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, AHF launched its relief efforts at dawn from Op-Locka Airport. The organization chartered a cargo plane and loaded 50 generators intended to power health care facilities in Puerto Rico. AHF, Kahane said, is collaborating with the San Juan Mayor’s office to assist health departments and hospitals on the island.
Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico in early September followed by Hurricane Maria last week.
“It’s disheartening to know that weeks have passed since these hurricanes devastated Puerto Rico and basic resources have still not been provided to a community that is in such dire need,” Kahane said.
Brock Long, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), called the situation in Puerto Rico a “complex event.”
“We’re not satisfied until its stable,” Long told MSNBC in a Friday morning interview with the cable television network.
Long said port capacity is increasing and dismissed what he called “misinformation” circulated by some journalists.
“FEMA does not charge for ice, food and commodities,” Long said.
Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine said the aid is not getting to Puerto Rico fast enough.
“The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack,” Levine told MSNBC.
Health statistics for Puerto Rico are hard to find. The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook has no available data on HIV/AIDS cases in Puerto Rico. In 2010, Puerto Rico was in the top 10 of U.S. states and territories in number of HIV/AIDS cases, reports AIDS United.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation-Puerto Rico HCC
Carr. 848 Km. 0.7 Bo. Saint Just
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico 00978