SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — American rapper Pitbull and billionaire Mark Cuban are lending private planes to the ongoing relief effort in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island.
On Tuesday, Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzales tweeted, “Thank you Pitbull for lending your private plane to move cancer patients from PR to USA so that they can get chemo.”
Pitbull told the New York Daily News, “Thank God we’re blessed to help. Just doing my part.”
Most homes are without power and phone service, with little hope of having it restored soon.
Food and medicine are dwindling, especially for those isolated by impassable roads. And rescuers still are finding and removing desperate people from their demolished communities.
Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, decided to lend the team plane to Mavericks guard and Puerto Rican native J.J. Barea, who left Monday for the island, according to ESPN.
"They loaded up a bunch of stuff, supples, etc. to take over to Puerto Rico, and they're going to turn around and come back," coach Rick Carlisle said.
"He's going to take his mom and grandmother back with him, and my understanding is his dad is going to stay over there and slug it out with all the recovery efforts."
Barea has also started a fundraiser that has surpassed $100,000.
The current situation in Puerto Rico is, in short, a humanitarian crisis, San Juan's mayor said Tuesday.
"We are finding dialysis patients that haven't been able to contact their providers, so we are having to transport them in near-death conditions," Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said, recalling a group's visit to two San Juan-area nursing homes this week.
"We are finding people whose oxygen tanks are running out, because ... small generators now don't have any diesel."
Searchers are trying to visit every structure in the capital area, she said.
"Our bodies are so tired, but our souls are so full of strength, that we will get to everyone that we can get to," Yulin said.
Two people died in an intensive care unit in a San Juan hospital after it ran out of diesel, Yulin said. Their causes of death weren't immediately available.
It wasn't clear whether those deaths were among the at least 16 deaths that Karixia Ortiz, spokeswoman for the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety, and Vilmar Trinta, spokesman of Puerto Rico's Police superintendent, attributed to the storm.
Maria struck Sept. 20, knocking out power for nearly all the 3.4 million residents and demolishing structures on an island already struggling after Hurricane Irma's brush earlier this month.
Nearly 1.6 million electric customers in Puerto Rico are without power, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Energy Department, not counting those using generators as a backup.AlertMe