Maria-decimated Puerto Rico seeing big ramp-up in federal aid

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) -- The Trump administration is sending a flotilla of ships and thousands more military personnel to Puerto Rico to address the growing humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Maria.

The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, said Tuesday that badly damaged airports and seaports are making it difficult to get aid and personnel to the stricken island.

Long said 16 Navy and Coast Guard ships were in the waters around Puerto Rico, with 10 more ships on the way. They include the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship. Planes and ships were also bringing in a military force numbering in the thousands to help distribute aid. Military aircraft were dropping food and water to areas of the island still isolated and unable to receive help by road, he said.

"We're dramatically increasing the federal footprint that's there," Long said, speaking outside the White House.

Related: Yes, Puerto Rico is part of the United States

Six days after Maria struck the island, conditions in Puerto Rico remain dire, with 3.4 million people virtually without electrical power and short of food and water. Flights off the island are infrequent, communications are spotty and roads are clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month.

Only 21 of the 69 hospitals have power or fuel, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports from San Juan.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is frustrated with what she says is a slow response from FEMA.

"They're waiting for their marching orders now. You're in an emergency.  If you don't do --  hundreds of lives will be lost," she told Begnaud.

MORE: Read the full story at CBSNEWS.com

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