Long Island charity sends supplies to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

BETHPAGE, Long Island (WABC) -- Puerto Rico is in a state of total devastation after Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory last week.

The island is in desperate need of supplies and support, and Island Harvest is willing to help.

Long Island's largest hunger relief organization received nearly 450,000 pounds of food, water and supplies over the past week, and large amounts of it are headed to Puerto Rico.

"A constant stream of food coming in and coming out," Vice President of Operations and Food Sourcing Migdalia Otero.

But once it arrives, will it reach those who need it the most?

Heartbreaking footage out of Vieques on Thursday showed people reaching their relatives for the first time, because of a charity that brought in satellite phones. Other footage from the U.S. Air Force showed the devastation, and those who are now living day-to-day with literally no roof over the heads.

On Thursday, after some delay, the Trump Administration waived the shipping restrictions known as the Jones Act, which will expedite delivery of recovery supplies.

"So we are grateful that our cries for justice were heard, and that the president did the right thing and stood on the right side of history," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said.

Painful pictures reflecting shipping containers sitting idle in the port of San Juan and trucks that had yet to go out will perhaps be moving out to those who need water, medicine and food the most.

"There was no truck driver availability," Otero said. "It's difficult. Not everybody drives big 53-foot trucks, and to get trucks that were working because of the devastation was pretty hard...We're like, 'No problem, bring it to us. We'll get it out.'"

Officials at Island Harvest say they have both trucks and truck drivers ready to get the goods to those who need them the most. As for the Jones Act, President Trump issued Puerto Rico a 10-day exemption. But already, some say that's not enough. Among them is Senator John McCain, who has drafted legislation to make that exemption permanent.
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