January 19, 2021

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Few refugees by storm Isaías | government

The Secretary of the Housing Department, Luis Fernández Trinchet, reported that there are 58 people sheltered as a result of the tropical storm Isaías- that is passing through the Island- and that the largest number are concentrated in the towns of Guayanilla and San Juan.

Fernández Trinchet arrived this morning at a meeting of agency heads at the headquarters of the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (Nmead). He said he is concerned about people who live in flood areas and are reluctant to move to shelters or to a safe place. Also due to the lack of communication with municipal governments to respond to the emergency and that all shelters are equipped with tanks and power plants, although he acknowledges that this problem comes from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

According to the official, there are also refugees – albeit on a smaller scale – in the municipalities of Añasco (4 people), San Sebastian (3) and Cabo Rojo (5). For example, he specified that in Guayanilla there are 13 refugees and 10 in the El Gandúl community in Santurce (San Juan).

“We certainly know that the shelters where the mayors are asking for generators are trying to get as soon as possible. Already the emergency declaration given by the President (Donald Trump) of the United States yesterday helps so that many of the generators that have their dissipation we can begin to distribute. However, if you have shelters with plants and tanks, we are going to use that type of shelter. There are 116 shelters with both things that fit with distance about 14,000 people. There is more than enough space to attend to this crisis at the moment, "he said.

He explained that of a total of 324 shelters, only 116 have cisterns and electric generators. “I would love for everyone to have it, but when you tell me that you have 116 for 14,000 people, that's enough. I reiterate this morning – that of the shelters accounted for – there are only 58 refugees. We cannot complain about a lack of shelter, "he said.

He alleged that the available shelters have food, protective equipment for the Covid-19 and the protocol to operate under the health crisis that the Island is also going through." We cannot say that the mayors have not been offered options. Another important detail is that the municipalities have been receiving millionaire allocations, "he said.

The official overflowed with criticism of the municipalities that have not acted with the resources they have received from the federal government. "I don't think they were negligent (the mayors). I think there are mayors who need a little more help in terms of the advice they receive. I cannot speak of negligence because I do not think that is the point, because there are mayors with whom we sit down and we tell them that they have not filed documents for programs, they look at my face and sometimes do not know what we are talking about. At some point there is a gap, "he said.

He also called on people living in dangerous areas and used the El Faro community in Guayanilla as an example, which suffered a sinking of the ground after the incessant tremors in the southwest of the Island.

“El Faro is an example. The conditions of El Faro are very dangerous for these people and although many of the people we saw are quite crazy to leave, we have found others who do not want to leave there no matter what happens, but they are dangerous conditions not only because the sea is entering but for the health issue, "he said.

He stated that in Puerto Rico there are many housing options, but that there are people who do not want to accept them. "They cling to the place where they were born and that can be understood to a certain extent, but if your life and that of the people with whom you live are in danger, the time must come to recognize that you must move to a place with better conditions"

It is expected that as the noon approaches, there will be a press conference on the emergency situation that the Island is experiencing due to the rains, winds and floods. The Secretary of the State Department, Elmer Román, was one of the officials who entered the meeting of agency heads early, which began shortly after 9:00 in the morning.

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