>> Criticizing us. There's plenty of criticism to go around. But I'm pretty confident.>> With criticism mounting for failing to recognize the severity of the disaster in Puerto Rico, the Trump administration says it's now pulling out all the stops. On Thursday, issuing a waver to halt the Jones Act, the shipping rule that many said was preventing much needed supplies into the island, and detailing the resources going to the battered area.
>> 12 Coast Guard cutters, three United States Navy ships, one DOT maritime administration vessel.>> Amid calls to organize its response, the US Military, Thursday, appointed three-star general, Jeffrey Buchanan, to oversee the effort. Even as FEMA and the US military have stepped up relief efforts, many residents have been exasperated at the prolonged lack of food, electricity, drinking water and other essentials.
Most of the Caribbean island's 3.4 million residents are still without electricity. And desperate people on the island are now looking for new routes to get out. Reuters' Robin Respaut is outside a cruise ship in San Juan as thousands are waiting to board.>> People that we've spoken to are Puerto Ricans, some of them are US Virgin Islanders who came to Puerto Rico seeking refuge after Hurricane Irma.
Now, all of them want to get to Florida, where they can then go to other places in the U.S. to stay with friends and family. It's very hard still to get plane tickets off this island. Some of the people I talked to said that they were looking at either two to $3,000 tickets or waiting two weeks to get to Florida.
This is a way out and they will be there by next week.>> Even with supplies coming in, the island still faces huge logistical hurdles to distribute them. Discharging of the San Juan Port remains slow. And there are several tankers carrying fuel waiting to unload that have not yet been able to do so according to Thomson and Reuters shipping data.
A worsening crisis that'll take time and money to fix, lots of it. A senior congressional aid telling Reuters on Thursday that the island is likely to need far more than $30 billion in long term aid from the US government. The grave need for supplies and the rush to provide them captured in this Reuters photo showing an aid plane in Fort Lauderdale tilting backward after taking on a heavy load of bottled water, that plane grounded as a result.