NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Many officials in New York say the situation in Puerto Rico is deteriorating by the day. Days after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, the territory remains without power and may not be fully restored for more than a month.
More than 3 million people are in the dark. No power means dwindling supplies of water, food, and long lines for fuel. Many cell towers have also been destroyed.
Hundreds now wait for flights in an attempt to escape.
"Texas is in trouble, if Florida is in trouble, if Puerto Rico is in trouble – get them an aid package, get it to them quick," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. "Just like we would expect for New York."
De Blasio and other officials are calling on the United States Congress to deliver an aid package to Puerto Rico immediately.
Lawmakers approved a $15 billion aid package after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. More than that will likely be needed in the Maria-ravaged U.S. territory.
"The situation is desperate," U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said. "Puerto Rico has taken a serious punch to the gut. They need our help. They need it now."
Some local officials said the response from the federal level has been too little, too slow. State Assemblyman Marcus Crespo and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez witnessed Maria's destruction firsthand when they toured the U.S. territory.
"We want to see troops on the ground," Crespo told Good Day New York. "We want to see resources being given."
"We need to have a big response from the federal government," Velazquez said. "Puerto Rico has been facing a recession for the last 10 years. On top of that, the medical cliff. On top of that bankruptcy."
The U.S. Department of Defense is working around the clock to deliver humanitarian assistance to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands, a military spokesman said.
About 10,000 federal employees are now on the island helping with recovery, the head of FEMA, who is there, said.
The White House insisted the federal response has been anything but slow.
"Our focus is still continuing to be on the life-saving efforts and the immediate disaster-response efforts, which are still currently underway," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "And once we have greater insight into the full assessment of damage then we'll be able to determine what additional funds are needed."
Hurricane Maria also devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hundreds of National Guard soldiers and airmen are helping residents of St. Croix dig out, Fox News reported. Some of them lost their own homes but are living in tents and helping others. More troops are on the way.
Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp compared going through a hurricane to experiencing a war. He said his territory needs more help, especially mental health specialists to treat traumatized residents and first responders.
The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are running search-and-rescue operations around Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
"An additional five flight deck-equipped cutters, five patrol boats, four rotary wing, and one fixed wing aircraft are moving to the vicinity of U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to further support search and rescue efforts," FEMA said in a statement.
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