Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced fired the island’s emergency management director on Saturday, after a video showing unused aid sitting unused in a warehouse went viral on social media.
Some of the aid has allegedly been sitting in the warehouse since Hurricane Maria struck in 2017.
NBC reports people in a southern Puerto Rico city discovered a warehouse filled with water, cots and other unused emergency supplies, then set off a social media uproar Saturday when they broke in to retrieve goods as the area struggles to recover from a strong earthquake.
With anger spreading in the U.S. territory after video of the event in Ponce appeared on Facebook, Gov. Wanda Vázquez quickly fired the director of the island’s emergency management agency.
The governor said she had ordered an investigation after learning the emergency supplies had been piled in the warehouse since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017.
Vázquez said inaction by the fired official, Carlos Acevedo, was unacceptable.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced fires the island's emergency management director, after a video showing aid sitting unused in a warehouse went viral on social media.
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) January 19, 2020
“There are thousands of people who have made sacrifices to help those in the south, and it is unforgivable that resources were kept in the warehouse,” the governor said.
Puerto Rico’s secretary of state, Elmer Román, told reporters that Acevedo had not told him about the contents of the warehouse.
News of the warehouse spread after online blogger Lorenzo Delgado relayed live video on Facebook of people breaking into the building. The scene became chaotic at times as people pushed their way in and began distributing water, baby food and other goods to those affected by the earthquake.
Delgado later told reporters that he had received a tip about the warehouse, but gave no specifics on when.
The mayor of Ponce, María Meléndez, said she had not known about the warehouse and its contents.
“This is outrageous,” she said. “Everyone knows what us mayors went through after Hurricane Maria to try and get help to our cities and how we’ve worked these weeks to provide basic supplies to people affected by earthquakes. Those involved owe us an explanation.”