With a shortage of truckers and extensive damage to the island's roads, surface transportation has been a serious bottleneck. In addition, 70 percent of the island's cell towers are down, making it difficult for dispatchers to reach customers and truckers. But one firm had its operations up and running as soon as cargo started to come in. “We were the only logistics provider that had truck power — albeit limited at the time — available as soon as the U.S. Coast Guard reopened the port in San Juan," said Frank Larkin, senior vice president and general manager, Crowley logistics and commercial services "The port was reopened at 8 a.m. on Sept. 23, the first Crowley vessel was in discharging cargo at 10 a.m., and many of our truckers were right there to deliver relief cargo... when no other trucking or logistics company was providing transportation services."
Since the storm ended, Crowley has handled 6,500 loads of cargo and 20 vessels, about one per day. It's a mixture of aid and commercial goods, but the line between the two is thin, says Jose “Pache” Ayala, Crowley's vice president for Puerto Rico services “When you consider that many people lost everything in the storm, all cargo is relief cargo, whether it comes from FEMA, a retail store or a grocery,” Ayala said. “That’s why the recovery of our commercial customers is so important.”
These goods are mission-critical critical, but Ayala told USA Today that getting cargo to customers is still difficult due to the ongoing surface transportation problems. Weeks after the storm, the terminal is sending boxes out the gate at about 70 percent of its normal rate, he said. It is storing about 3,400 containers, about twice the normal amount.
Jones Act waiver expires
The Trump administration allowed Puerto Rico’s 10-day Jones Act waiver to expire on Sunday, closing the door on the possibility of foreign-flagged ships carrying cargo between the U.S. mainland and the island territory. "We believe that extending the waiver is unnecessary to support the humanitarian relief efforts on the island," Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press secretary David Lapan told CBS News. "There is an ample supply of Jones Act-qualified vessels to ensure that cargo is able to reach Puerto Rico.”
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