WASHINGTON (WJZ)– It’s been nearly three weeks since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, which is still struggling to recover.
Those at a rally in D.C. Wednesday say what’s happening in Puerto Rico is devastating and the federal government should do more.
“This is really not yesterday’s news. This is happening now,” one man at the rally said.
The crowd of volunteers and politicians want Congress to permanently remove the shipping law, known as the Jones Act. They say it’s outdated and blocks the island’s recovery.
The group is urging Congress to approve emergency funding for Puerto Rico. It also wants help for the long-term recovery.
The island’s more than three million people are sifting through the rubble and are experiencing a food shortage, scarce water and desperation after being hit first by Hurricane Irma then Maria.
“We just need a lot of water. we don’t find it. It’s really hard to find it,” said Puerto Rican Isabel Morales.
The federal government has boots on the ground and food distribution centers.
Puerto Rico’s governor told CBS News, he needs more help.
“We still need to do a hell of a lot more. And certainly, the actions that are taken in Congress, for the next weeks and in the next month are going to be paramount,” Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said.
On Tuesday, the White House asked Congress for a $5 billion loan for Puerto Rico’s disaster relief. The U.S. territory has a debt of more than $73 billion.
“Not a loan for heavens sake, a loan. We should get complete relief funds for Puerto Rico because we’re American citizens,” said Melina Olmond, who rallied for Puerto Rico.
On Thursday, the House will vote on a bill. It includes the loan for Puerto Rico and help for other parts of the country dealing with natural disasters.
CBS News reports that 85 percent of the island is still without power.