Trump waives cargo restrictions to speed help to Puerto Rico

Jose A. Rivera right and his brother Jose Ramon Rivera look over their destroyed plantain crops in Yabucoa Puerto Rico on Sunday. For as far as they could see every one of the 14,000 trees was down. “There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico,”

President Donald Trump has waived the "Jones Act" which restricts shipping to Puerto Rico as it struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced the waiver of Jones Act, which is meant to expedite the delivery of needed relief supplies to Puerto Rico, in a tweet on Thursday morning.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the act was lifted Thursday morning, and it "will go into effect immediately".

Last night, the chairman of the American Maritime Partnership told CBS4 News, shippers were not in favor of waiving the act.

"A foreign relief shipment to Puerto Rico, they have two choices", said Scott Miller, an worldwide trade expert with the Center for Strategic & global Studies.

During a briefing, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) said she found the conditions "shocking" when she visited the island on Friday. The agency quoted a spokesman for a Florida-based shipping company as saying thousands of 20-foot containers of food, water and soap were piling up at docks in the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan.

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Republicans and Democrats had urged Trump to waive a little-known federal law called the Jones Act that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between US ports.

Elaine Duke, acting secretary at the Homeland Security Department, said more than 90 percent of the island now has limited accessibly and 200 gas stations are open. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.

Scott added: "I have directed the Florida National Guard and FWC to be prepared for deployment as soon as we receive a formal request for assistance from Puerto Rico, and we already have an airman from the Florida Air National Guard on the ground in Puerto Rico coordinating air operations". Large numbers of generators are now on Island.

Waiving restrictions on foreign vessels that carry cargo to Puerto Rico "could overwhelm the system, creating unnecessary backlogs and causing confusion on the distribution of critical supplies throughout the island,"' said Thomas Allegretti, the group's chairman. Also on the way are ambulances and 100 trucks carrying diesel and gasoline fuel.

In Washington, the Transportation Department on Thursday made $40 million in "quick release" Emergency Relief funds to help restore essential service on roads and bridges damaged by Maria throughout Puerto Rico. Esri has volunteered its GIS expertise for Harvey and Irma, and with this new tool it wants to provide crowdsourced updates on Puerto Rico's infrastructure.

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