Puerto Ricans Are Running Out of Cash

Residents struggling to survive amid post-hurricane shortages
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2017 12:21 AM CDT
Even Cash Is Running Out in Puerto Rico
People wait to buy gas in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.   (Gerald Herbert)

First, Hurricane Maria knocked out power and water to Puerto Rico. Then diesel fuel, gas, and water became scarce. Now, it's money. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the US territory's economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island, the AP reports. There are long lines at the banks that are open with reduced hours or the scattered ATMs that are operational amid an islandwide power outage and near total loss of telecommunications. Many people are unable to work or run their businesses because diesel to run generators is in short supply.

Cruzita Mojica is an employee of the Puerto Rico Treasury Department in San Juan. While she, like many public sector workers, has been called back to work she can't go because she has to care for her elderly mother in the aftermath of the storm. She got up at 3:30am Wednesday and went to four ATM machines only to find each one empty. "Of course I took out money before the hurricane, but it's gone already," she says. "We're without gasoline. Without money. Without food. This is a disaster." There still is no exact tally of the cost and full extent of the hurricane damage, but Gov. Ricardo Rossello says it will bring a complete halt to the economy for at least a month. (Farmers say there is "no more agriculture.")

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