Nearly 3 weeks after Maria, Puerto Rico still needs help

SAN JUAN (NBC News) – We may take running water, fuel and food for granted, but they are still in short supply in Puerto Rico.

Nealy three weeks after Hurricane Maria, much of the island is still without power and major relief efforts are still underway.

Three-star General Jeffrey Buchanan is spearheading the military relief effort – with a recent supply mission to Aguadilla in the western part of the island.

“We shouldn’t pretend that this so going to be pain-free,” says Gen. Buchanan. “This is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work to get people back on their feet.”

There has been improvement in Puerto Rico: 78 percent of gas stations here are now open, 77 percent of supermarkets.

However, only about 12 percent of the island has power and not even a third of cell phone towers are working.

“Water and food, of course, are critical. We’re still working to develop critical pathways to get to everybody,” says Governor Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico.

Outside of San Juan, some remote towns are desperate.

More than 40 percent of the U.S. territory still has no running water, and people are in need of gasoline, medicine, insulin and diesel.

Today Puerto Rico’s Governor sent a letter to Congressional leaders, saying the island needs more than $4 billion to fully recover.

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