(NewsNation) — The federal government shouldn’t wait until a damage assessment is done to start getting supplies to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré said.
“The ships need to be flowing in with water now,” Honoré said on NewsNation Live. “Without water, people will start dying.”
Added Honoré: “They’re going to need a lot of helicopters to get to remote areas, and road clearing to be able to move that water.”
Hurricane Fiona, a Category 3 storm, devastated Puerto Rico and left most people in the U.S. territory without electricity or running water. It is likely to strengthen even more into a Category 4 hurricane as it makes it way to Bermuda Friday. At least three deaths were reported, according to USA Today: two in Puerto Rico and one in the Dominican Republic.
It’s not Puerto Rico’s first hurricane.
Tuesday marks five years since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. That Category 4 storm killed nearly 3,000 people and wreaked havoc on the island’s power grid.
Puerto Rico still hasn’t recovered from Maria. Even now, thousands of homes in Puerto Rico are still covered by blue tarps.
“In Maria, a lot of people died after the storm because we couldn’t get to them or they didn’t have water or they didn’t have electricity to stay alive,” Honoré said.
Honoré, who was the commander of a task force responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, said right now, officials are currently in “search and rescue and damage assessment mode” when it comes to Fiona.
“The federal government needs to move,” Honoré said. “They have a tendency to want to wait for the governor (of Puerto Rico) to ask for something — we know how to do this, we need to be more proactive and be quicker.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.