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Puerto Ricans discovered a warehouse full of unused food, water, and supplies from Hurricane Maria, resulting in the firing of the island's emergency manager

Connor Perrett , Business Insider US
 Jan 20, 2020, 12:58 PM

Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico
A local resident cleans debris near his damaged home in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
  • A warehouse full of unused supplies, including food, water, cots, and baby formula leftover from 2017's Hurricane Maria was discovered in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Saturday.
  • The discovery prompted Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vásquez Garced to fire Carlos Acevedo, the island's director of the Office of Emergency Management.
  • Vásguez Garced has ordered Puerto Rico's secretary of state to investigate the unused supplies within the next two days.
  • The 2017 hurricane ravaged the island, which has recently been dealt with a series of devastating earthquakes.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A Ponce, Puerto Rico warehouse full of unused emergency supplies, including food, water, and cots leftover from Hurricane Maria in 2017 was discovered Saturday during an inspection following recent earthquakes in the region.

Following the discovery of the unused emergency supplies, Puerto Ricans lined up outside the facility hoping to get some of the emergency supplies, including the food, water, and emergency radios according to a CNN report.

A video of the warehouse tweeted by Univision journalist Jeremy Ortiz showed supplies from the warehouse being distributed following the discovery Sunday.

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vásquez Garced fired Carlos Acevedo, the island's director of the Office of Emergency Management, on Saturday following the discovery, per CNN. Vásquez Garced also directed Puerto Rico Secretary of State Elmer Roman to investigate - with a 48-hour deadline - the management of the supplies, CNN reported.

"There are thousands of people who made sacrifices to bring aid to the south and it's unforgivable that resources have been kept in a warehouse," Vásquez Garced said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Acevedo has defended his management of the supplies and in a statement released through his former office said no residents had ever been denied the supplies in the warehouse, which he said included items like diapers and baby formula.

Acevedo said 80 pallets of the water in the warehouse had not been distributed because they had expired, but said about 600 pallets had been distributed following 2019 Hurricanes Dorian and Karen and during a drought. Neither of the hurricanes impacted Puerto Rico to the same degree as Maria.

As Insider previously reported, the 2017 hurricane, which left more than 3,000 people dead, has left longlasting devastation on the island and revealed cracks in Puerto Rico's infrastructure. The hurricane had winds up to 140 mph and delivered 38 inches of rain to parts of the island, per Insider. As of August 2019, it was estimated that around 30,000 people on the island still lacked permanent roofs on their homes - two years after the deadly storm.

Reaction to the news was widespeead. On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. shared the news in a tweet that claimed it showed his father, President Donald Trump was "was right after all."

The president has claimed he is the "best thing" to happen to Puerto Rico following the 2017 storm, despite widespread complaints that the US federal government failed to properly react to the devastating hurricane that left thousands dead. Trump famously tossed paper towels into a crowd of first responders in Puerto Rico in 2017 during a visit to the island after the hurricane.

The discovery of the unused emergency supplies comes amid several devastating earthquakes to the island. The earthquakes have harmed Puerto Rico's already-damaged power grid, and have driven people to sleep in shelters and on their streets due to excessive damage from the quakes on January 7 and 11. In addition to the larger magnitude - 6.4 and 6.0 - earthquakes that have occurred, the island has dealt with hundreds of smaller quakes in January across Puerto Rico's 5,328 square miles (about 13,000 kilometres). The 6.4 magnitude quake was the biggest one the island had faced in a century.

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