President Donald Trump ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately at the request of Governor Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sept. 28.
The waiver will be in effect for 10 days and cover all products being shipped to Puerto Rico, Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said in an email.
The 1920 Jones Act is a maritime law requiring shipments of goods between two U.S. ports to be made with American-flagged vessels, manned by American crews. Pressure was mounting on the Trump administration to lift the restrictions regarding supplies being sent to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the U.S. territory more than a week ago.
The administration temporarily lifted the rule this month to ensure gasoline-starved Florida received supplies after Hurricane Harvey.
Rossello thanked Trump on Sept. 28 on Twitter.
Thousands of cargo containers bearing millions of emergency meals and other relief supplies have been piling up on San Juan’s docks since Sept. 23. The mountains of material may not reach storm survivors for days.
The island of 3.4 million is in the throes of a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, without electricity, mobile-phone service or clean water. Puerto Rico’s power grid went dark during the hottest season of year and may stay down for weeks or months. Of the commonwealth’s 69 hospitals, only 11 have power and fuel. Officials and residents warn of disease without access to clean water.
The devastation is the result of the third deadly hurricane within the past month to confront the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Department.
With assistance by Laura Blewitt, and Catherine Traywick