20 days after Maria hit Puerto Rico, water still being rationed in south

Twenty days after Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico, some residents on the south side of the island are still receiving just two bottles of water per day – a ration one West Palm Beach-based aid group called woefully inadequate.

Eagles Wings Foundation leader Scott Lewis, who has a team of 15 people working in the 23,000-person town of Santa Isabel, said that while some food and water is arriving from FEMA, PREMA (Puerto Rican Emergency Management Agency) and private donations, its’ not enough.

“Just 1,000 citizens got supplies yesterday out of 23,000,” Lewis said. “We have been asking for more resources for seven days now.”

Related: Two weeks after Maria, south thirsty, waiting in line. 

Cities across the southern coast of Puerto Rico remain dark and without electricity 10 days after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Santa Isabel received limited relief supplies on Saturday, September 30, 2017. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

In more than 15 requests hand delivered to relief headquarters in San Juan, Lewis said he has requested people to help manage distribution sites, and a FEMA officer to work with the incident command center in Santa Isabel.

“The conditions some of the vulnerable home-bound survivors are living in, borders on human rights violations,” said a handwritten message on an official FEMA form that Santa Isabel officials sent Sunday. “The lack of response to the number of submitted requests for support and/or supplies is negligent.”

Coamo, Puerto Rico, a city of 40,000, does not have access to running water nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria ripped the island colony of the US. Residents fill containers with well water on the side of a highway in the city on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

While just 16 percent of Puerto Rico has electricity, the Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday it awarded its first contract to a company that will help repair the island’s mangled power grid.

The $35.1 million award went to Pennsylvania-based Weston Solutions, which will work on the Palo Seco Plant, one of the main power providers to the city of San Juan.

And there has been some progress in restoring communication and opening businesses.

The southern Port of Ponce is open, although only for boats with a draft less than 38 feet, said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Ryan Kelley.

Related: An unlikely Palm Beach County pair team up to aid Puerto Rico.

FEMA said it was air dropping supplies on Tuesday to several central and southern cities including Juana Diaz, Coamo and Orocovis.

The website Status.pr, which updates what’s open and working, showed 78 percent of gas stations, 86 percent of supermarkets, 56 percent of banks and 92 percent of post offices were operational Tuesday.

But hours-long lines persist, and supplies are minimal.

Scott Lewis, founder of West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation, works in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico to set up an incident command center. Photo courtesy Eagles Wings Foundation.

“My husband had to go to the post office and he waited three hours in a line that went around the building,” said Yeovanna Gonzalez, 42, who left Puerto Rico last week with a one-way ticket to Atlanta. “To go to the store, you have to have your list ready and then a store employee goes with you. But I’ve seen there is not a lot of stuff in supermarkets.”

Gonzalez, who lives in the southwest part of Puerto Rico in Cabo Rojo, works online as a designer and can do her job from Atlanta to keep money coming in.  She said she worries for her 63-year-old mother who is diabetic and needs insulin. Without electricity, the supply she had in her refrigerator before Maria is no longer viable.

“I can’t talk to her, she has no way to communicate,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know how she is doing.”

Gonzalez said the impression people have in the southern and western part of Puerto Rico of that San Juan continues to get the majority of aid and attention, while other areas suffer.

Lewis’ group agrees.

“We are sitting here waiting for a flood of supplies to come, but we are not seeing it,” said Matthew Campbell, who works for the Eagles Wings Foundation and is in Santa Isabel. “You can imagine, you can drink one bottle of water just going back to the car, and they are only getting two.”

A dog rests on tons of beach stones stacked about two feet deep fill a yard and home on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico after being deposited more than forty yards from shore by the storm surge of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico residents on the southern coast endured the winds of the storm’s eye. Relief efforts have been slow to arrive in Santa Isabel on Saturday, September 30, 2017.(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

Two weeks after Maria, Puerto Rico’s forgotten coast suffers deeply

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria changed Puerto Rico, people on the deeply bruised south side of the island are sweaty, thirsty and waiting in line.

While Black Hawk helicopters buzzed above San Juan and President Donald Trump visited the bustling northern capital this week, at a Banco Popular in Ponce, the largest city on the southern coast, hundreds of people stood in the midday sun hoping to get cash before it ran out, or before the precarious computer system went down.

Related: Unlikely Palm Beach County pair bring relief to Puerto Rico.

Three lines threaded through the parking lot Tuesday like queues at Disney World – one for the ATM, one to go inside the bank and one for municipal workers. A bent old man sold sweet frozen slushies from a push cart. Kids played as parents waited because there was no school and no one knew when there would be again.

No one tapped on smartphones made useless by Maria, and few cared that the president had landed.

Residents of Ponce, Puerto Rico, the second largest city on the island, queue in three lines for the four to five-hour wait to withdraw money at a local bank on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. The American citizens of the island colony are nearing two weeks without electricity after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

“Your typical Puerto Rican out there with no means could care less that Trump is here, even if they know he’s here,” said Victor Hernandez, a South Palm Beach resident who returned to his homeland this past week hoping to expedite supplies to the southern coast. “It’s not like he’s showing up to the Port of Ponce with three ships of water and food.”

So much sand was pushed into the port on the southside of the island, it was unknown until Saturday night what kind of ships could bring in supplies. On Tuesday, its gantry canes still stood quiet.

Residents of Puerto Rico continue cleanup ten days after Hurricane Maria devastated the commonwealth. The southern coastline of the island was ravaged by winds at the eye wall of the storm. A resident of empties a refrigerator of rancid foodstuffs Santa Isabel on Saturday, September 30, 2017. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

The daily schedule for many on this side of the island is a morning inventory of needs, and a calculation of what can be gathered before curfew goes into effect at 9 p.m. Usually, it’s only one or two things, and those things are usually gas and water.

The bank is a day-long effort. Without electricity, Internet or cell service, stores can’t take debit or credit cards. Having cash is everything.

Some people at Banco Popular clutched colorful umbrellas Tuesday to shade them from the searing equatorial sun. Under a bright red one with a crooked tine was Joel Albino, 29, and his 1 1/2-year-old son Jayden.

“It’s been really difficult,” said Albino, who had moved forward about 50 feet in more than an hour and said he sets aside about seven hours for a bank run. “If I need water or gas, I go each morning and get in line, but water has all but disappeared.”

Gas lines are running three to four hours, Albino said. Sometimes he gets in a line only to find out that there is no gas and people are just waiting in the off chance that a fuel truck arrives. Getting water means…

Find out what Albino and his neighbors have to do to get water in the full story on MyPalmBeachPost.com.

Much of Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million inhabitants are without power and many are without running water 12 days after Hurricane Maria wrecked the island. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

Post in Puerto Rico: Island struggles after Hurricane Maria

A wind burned hillside in San Juan, Puerto Rico shows the damage brought by Hurricane Maria just over a week ago to this island nation. Much of the country of just over three million residents are without power, fuel lines are stacked deep at filling stations and flights are ferrying the elderly and sick from the island.(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

Editor’s Note: The Palm Beach Post’s weather reporter, Kimberly Miller, and multimedia journalist Thomas Cordy are in Puerto Rico to chronicle the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

Click here for the latest as Kimberly Miller and Thomas Cordy reach Puerto Rico

A viwe of old San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo by Kimberly Miller)

UPDATE: Chances of tropical system forming remain at 50 percent

SOURCE: National Hurricane Center

Update: 8 p.m.: A large area of cloudiness and showers extending from the northwestern Caribbean Sea northward across Cuba to the Florida Straits continues to head toward South Florida.

The area of showers and thunderstorms has a 48 percent chance of tropical development in the next 48 hours, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center, and a 50 percent chance of formation through the next five day.

Regardless of development, this system is likely to produce
heavy rainfall over portions of central and western Cuba,
the Florida Keys, the Florida peninsula, and the northwestern
Bahamas during the next several days.

It is forecast to move north near the east coast of the Florida Peninsula through Saturday.

Two-day graphical tropical weather outlook. SOURCE: National Hurricane Center

Update 2 p.m.: An area of cloudiness and showers extending from the Cayman Islands into the Florida Straits was given a 50 percent chance of tropical development by the National Hurricane Center this afternoon.

That’s up slightly from this morning’s 40 percent chance, but a bigger jump from the 20 percent chance it had yesterday when initially identified by NHC forecasters.

It has a small window to organize, with storm-shredding upper-level winds becoming less accommodating for a tropical system early next week. But sea-surface temperatures in the high 80s in the Florida Straits and Gulf Stream are plenty warm for storm formation.

“This time of year, this is not unusual,” said Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “We’re still in hurricane season and as we move into October, this is an area where tropical systems form.”

The next name on the 2017 tropical cyclone list is Nate.

“I wouldn’t trust this sneaky system one bit given what has happened so far in 2017,” said hurricane center scientist Eric Blake in a Tweet. “Either way, a wet end of the week coming for South Florida.”

Previous story: The National Hurricane Center has increased the chances that an area of showers and thunderstorms south of Florida will form into a tropical system to 40 percent over five days.

Forecasters said the area is expected to form into a low pressure system and could grow from there as it moves north across Cuba and near the east coast of Florida.

Upper-level winds early next week will work to shred the disturbance, but until then conditions appear conducive for development, forecasters said.

If the area does develop into a tropical storm, it would be named Nate.

Regardless of development, South Florida and the Bahamas can expect bouts of heavy rain through the weekend.

Forecast for West Palm Beach:

5-day rain fall totals show 2 to 4 inches in parts of South Florida.

On average, 12 named storms form during a typical hurricane season. This year, there have already been 13, and October is known to be a busy month for tropical cyclones to form in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea where waters remain warm.

Eric Blake, a scientist with the NHC, looked at ocean heat content in the area where the current disturbance is sitting from the busy 2005 hurricane season and today below.

The South Florida Water Management District said late Wednesday it was preparing for heavy rainfall this week.

Forecasters are calling for the heaviest rain Friday and Saturday along the east coast.

“Water managers have maintained regional canals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in low operating ranges since Hurricane Irma moved through,” the district said in a press release. “In preparation for this weekend’s rainfall, canals in Palm Beach County are also being drawn down by discharging water to tide through coastal structures.”

Please check back for updates throughout the day on this ongoing weather story.

What scary tropical cyclone was named a year ago today?

In late September 2016, South Florida was vaguely aware of a tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa.

It had low chances of development.

But by Sept. 28, the area of disturbed weather, showers and convection,  had earned a name – Matthew, the 13th tropical cyclone of the 2016 hurricane season.

Related: Photo gallery of Hurricane Matthew in Palm Beach County

Related: Why Palm Beach County residents refused to evacuate during Hurricane Matthew

On Sept. 29, Matthew became a hurricane and quickly strengthened.

In Fact, Hurricane Matthew’s explosive intensification to a dangerous Category 5 storm was not predicted by any National Hurricane Center models and shocked forecasters who watched its winds grow to 165 mph in a day, according to a report released earlier this year.

“I have never seen a storm intensify this much in the path of what we would consider to be adverse conditions,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart, who wrote the report on Hurricane Matthew. “We are fortunate this occurred over the open Caribbean because if it happened over the Gulf Stream, and suddenly you have a Category 4 or 5, it’s going to make a big difference if people aren’t prepared.”

Photo gallery: After Hurricane Matthew

By Oct. 4,  the forecast cone of uncertainty for Matthew cut Florida almost in half lengthwise, swallowing everything east of and including Lake Okeechobee.

Emergency managers urged people to prepare and began calling for evacuations of barrier islands.

“Whether or not we are in the cone of uncertainty, I don’t think makes a darn bit of difference. This is a big storm,” said Bill Johnson, director of Palm Beach County’s Emergency Operations Division, at the time. “Even if it stayed on track, we were going to get a significant part of this storm. If it ticks to the west, it’s going to be even worse.”

Hurricane Matthew off the coast of Florida Oct. 6, 2016

Matthew gave South Florida its first real scare from a tropical cyclone since 2005’s Hurricane Wilma.

Related: Catch up on all Hurricane Matthew coverage here. 

It brushed by Palm Beach County as a Category 4 storm on Oct. 6 with no hurricane-force winds recorded on land.

Palm Beach International Airport measured sustained winds of 33 mph with gusts of 50 mph during the storm. Sustained tropical storm-force winds of 56 mph were measured in Jupiter with gusts up to 66 mph.

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just south of McClellanville, S.C., on Oct. 8.

Low-altitude oblique photography taken before Hurricane Matthew (Sept. 6, 2014) and after (Oct. 13, 2016) shows the storm cut a new inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River near St. Augustine, Florida, stripping away a 3.7 meter (12-foot) dune and carrying sand into the estuary.Public domain

While Matthew caused widespread damage to roofs, trees and power lines from Florida to North Carolina, it devastated Haiti, killing more than 500 people and either destroying or damaging more than 200,000 homes.

In the U.S., 34 deaths were directly attributed to Matthew, including two in Florida.

The number of people killed made Matthew the deadliest hurricane since 2005’s Hurricane Stan.

ST AUGUSTINE, FL – OCTOBER 07: Rob Birch checks on his car which floated out of his drive way as Hurricane Matthew passes through the area on October 7, 2016 in St Augustine, Florida. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Hurricane center watching area south of Florida for development

8 p.m. UPDATE: The area of disturbed weather associated with a trough of low pressure over the northwestern Caribbean is forecast to move slowly north-northwestward across Cuba and the Straits of Florida during the next day or so, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest tropical outlook.

Some development is possible when it moves near Florida or the northwestern Bahamas on Friday or Saturday before upper-level winds become less favorable early next week. Regardless, it’s likely to produce locally heavy rainfall over portions of Cuba, southern Florida, the Florida Keys, and the Bahamas during the next several days, the hurricane center says.

The chance of development over the next five days remains at 20 percent. The next tropical outlook will be issued at 2 a.m.

Tracking map, preparation guide, more
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The National Hurricane Center has identified an area of low pressure over the northwestern Caribbean Sea as a spot to watch for potential tropical development.

The pocket of disturbed weather is forecast to move north-northwest across Cuba and the Florida Straits during the next couple of days.

Forecasters give it just a 20 percent chance of development over five days before upper-level winds become less accommodating for something to spin up.

Regardless of development, this system is likely to produce locally heavy rainfall over portions of Cuba, South Florida, the Florida Keys and the Bahamas during the next several days.

If a tropical storm did form, it would be named  Nate.

This is the time of year when hurricanes become more home grown, forming in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. It’s also when Florida is especially vulnerable because upper-level winds often blow storms west into the state.

“We have to turn our attention closer to home,” said Greg Postel, a hurricane expert at The Weather Channel. “In October, Mother Nature likes to put the ingredients for storms in the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.”

Nine hurricanes of Category 3 or higher have hit South Florida in October since records began in the late 1800s.

Those include six hurricanes that made landfall on the west coast, and three at the tip of Florida or on the southeast coast.

Category 3 or higher hurricane strikes on South Florida during the month of October.

Air Force Hercules at PBIA aiding hurricane relief efforts

Palm Beach International Airport has been the base for several hurricane relief efforts to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands affected by Maria and Irma.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office confirmed that C-130 Hercules transport planes seen at PBIA are participating in hurricane-related missions, but didn’t have details this afternoon on what islands they are helping.

On Tuesday, the West Palm Beach-based aid group Eagles Wings Foundation flew two planes to Puerto Rico to drop off supplies and pick up senior citizens needing to be evacuated.

A Missouri Air National Guard C-130 Hercules transport from the 139th Airlift Wing is seen at Palm Beach International Airport on Wednesday, September 27, 2017. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

Lee becomes 5th major hurricane this season

Hurricane Lee may come in a little package with hurricane-force winds extending out only 35 miles, but it’s got some punch.

The National Hurricane Center said at its 11 a.m. advisory that Lee has powered up to 115 mph, making it a Category 3 storm and the fifth tropical cyclone this season to earn the title of major hurricane.

A normal hurricane season has just two major hurricanes.

Check The Palm Beach Post’s live storm tracking map. 

At 480 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, Lee is no threat to land, but notable for forming Sept. 14, dissipating, and then reforming Friday.

Category 3 Hurricane Lee on Sept. 27, 2017

Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher with Colorado State University, said there have been six previous hurricane seasons with five major hurricanes.

Klotzbach said Lee becoming a major hurricane doesn’t mean much for the rest of the season as far as number or strength of storms. But, he said, he does expect a busier October and November than normal.

“I certainly think that the remainder of the season will be active, given the La Nina-like conditions in the tropical Pacific combined with a very warm Caribbean,” Klotzbach said. “That combination typically results in anomalous low-level westerlies in the Caribbean which helps to spin up tropical cyclones in that region late in the season.”

Hurricane center forecasters said Lee will be moving into cooler water temperatures over the next day, which should start to weaken the storm.

Hurricane hunter pilots wear oxygen masks to land jet after 3rd malfunction

NOAA’s Gulfstream IV-SP (N49RF) “hurricane hunter” jet on the ramp. Photo: Lt. j.g. Richard de Triquet / NOAA

Pilots on a hurricane hunter flight donned oxygen masks for more than two hours after a leak was discovered on an aging NOAA jet during a flight into Hurricane Maria.

The leak caused a Monday mission into Maria to be called short by an hour and forced the cancellation of a scheduled Tuesday mission.

It is the third time this hurricane season that the Gulfstream jet – NOAA’s only aircraft possible of flying to 45,000 feet – has suffered technical problems that compromised or cancelled flights into storms.

Pressurization was not lost on the jet during Monday’s mission, but the pilots wore the oxygen masks as a precaution.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

“For a third time during this monstrous and deadly hurricane season, the plane that improves forecasts by 15 percent has been grounded because it’s old,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. “And, unbelievably, there is no backup. I’ve sounded the alarm on this until I’m blue in the face. The administration simply must act.”

Hurricane Maria (left) and Hurricane Lee spin in the Atlantic on Sept. 25, 2017

The jet, which is nicknamed Gonzo, works in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s P-3 and C-130 hurricane hunters.

But it’s the G-IV’s high-flying muscle that improves tropical cyclone track forecasts by 15 percent on average per storm.

According to a report to Nelson’s office, the G-IV suffered a main cabin door seal leak on Monday while flying at 45,000 feet in Maria.

The plane returned to NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center but had to maintain altitude for over an hour because the crew was flying on the east side of the hurricane and had to stay above it to get back to the east coast.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

“The G-IV ended the tasking one hour early on Sept. 25, 2017, having completed 22 of 30 assigned dropsonde deployments,” the report says. “The G-IV completed the most vital sampling area north of the storm, and approximately 75 percent of the circumnavigation around the storm center.”

Repairs could keep the jet grounded until Oct. 3.

There are provisions requiring a backup jet in the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, but no money earmarked specifically for it in the administration’s proposed 2018 budget for NOAA. At $4.7 billion, the tentative spending plan for NOAA is a 17 percent reduction from the previous year.

A backup Gulfstream would cost between $90 million and $120 million. That estimate includes outfitting the plane with the same technology that’s in Gonzo, including a Doppler radar antenna installed in the tail.

But instead of buying a new plane,  NOAA could investigate more cost effective measures, such as leasing a plane or finding other federal agencies who could make a similar plane available during hurricane season.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Nail-biting rescue from Puerto Rico gets seniors out

Eighty-year-old Madelaine Hennessey knew two things Tuesday  — she needed to get to the battered Isla Grande Airport in Puerto Rico for a precarious rescue attempt or the sputtering generator keeping her oxygen flowing might be her end.

Hennessey, who has carcinoid cancer, had been living in a recliner in the lobby of her San Juan apartment building since Category 4 Hurricane Maria brought ruin to the U.S. territory Sept. 20.

“Oh my God, get me out. You have to get me out,” she pleaded in a touch-and-go phone call she managed to her daughter in New Jersey when the universe aligned long enough to muster a cell-phone signal.

But it wasn’t until Scott Lewis, who runs the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation, learned of Hennessey’s plight that there was hope of an extraction.

RELATED: Then and now photos of Hurricane Katrina

As conditions in Puerto Rico deteriorate and aid missions stumble, Lewis’ foundation wrangled two flights in on Tuesday to drop off supplies and pull out as many vulnerable senior citizens as possible. Hennessey was on the manifest, as was a 92-year-old woman, who Lewis said was trapped on the sixth floor of a nursing home with no electricity and forced to drink water from the toilet.

Palm Beach County law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart and Shipley paid for the operation.

“I see the potential for the nursing-home deaths that happened during Irma to exponentially happen in Puerto Rico,” Lewis said. “There are extremely urgent unmet needs.”

Millie Fernandez embraces Estevalier Olivieri after arriving in West Palm Beach, Florida, from Puerto Rico on Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2017. The Eagles Wings Foundation led a rescue mission that transported elderly nursing home patients and some family members to safety after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. (Calla Kessler / The Palm Beach Post)

Lewis, a veteran in the disaster recovery business with his nonprofit Eagles Wings Foundation and Pathfinders Task Force, said the situation in Puerto Rico is dire and occurring in an environment where two preceding disasters — hurricanes Harvey and Irma — are complicating getting help to the island.

LIVE RADAR: Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here

Flying into Puerto Rico is a challenge in itself, but with relief efforts still occurring in the Keys and Houston, navigating charter flights in the U.S. is also proving tricky. Lewis said one of the biggest challenges this week was getting a private plane into Palm Beach International Airport.

“There are eight small countries suffering catastrophic problems in the Caribbean, and then Houston and the Keys,” Lewis said. “People aren’t grasping the size and complexity of this situation.”

Lewis’ flights Tuesday were made with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard, which was contacted by a tenacious Virginia woman who is lifelong friends with Hennessey’s daughter.

Read the incredible story of how that went down in the full article on MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

People arrive in West Palm Beach, Florida, from Puerto Rico on Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2017. The Eagles Wings Foundation led a rescue mission that transported elderly nursing home patients and some family members to safety after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. (Calla Kessler / The Palm Beach Post)

Update 4 p.m.: An 80-year-old woman set for rescue out of Puerto Rico today by a West Palm Beach group has been found after boarding the wrong plane.

Madelaine Hennessey was waiting at a private airport in Puerto Rico for West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation to find another woman when she was approached by a pilot who said he was going to Miami.

According to family members, Hennessey went with the man, but was located and put on the correct plane bound for Palm Beach International Airport.

Update 3 p.m.: One of the elderly women the Eagles Wings Foundation went to rescue from Puerto Rico has apparently boarded another plane to Miami.

Lisa Suhay, a friend of 80-year-old Madelaine Hennessey, said that when foundation rescuers went to find another woman they were hoping to extract, Hennessey was approached by a pilot at the airport who said he was going to Miami.

“She told him she was going to Miami and he took her,” Suhay said. “We can’t find her.”

Hennessey was supposed to land with the foundation at Palm Beach International Airport this evening.

“Apparently it’s the wild west with no one checking anything,” Suhay said.

Related: Photos of Katrina, then and now.

Scott Lewis, founder of Eagles Wings, confirmed another elderly woman was located and was on the way to the airport at 3 p.m.

The law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart and Shipley paid for the extraction.

“We had a chance to make a difference and we are honored to be a part of this life-saving mission,” stated Christian Searcy, president of the firm.

Update 12:30 p.m.: Both planes sent by the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation have landed in San Juan.

Scott Lewis, who runs Eagles Wings, said the planes are carrying recovery supplies, and hope to bring back senior citizens who are suffering with no electricity, food, water and medicine.

“Remember the old rule about three days of food and water? Well we’re at five,” Lewis said.

Related: National guardsmen weren’t sure they should be taking orders from a hammy civilian in khakis.

Previous story: Madelaine Hennessey, 80, has been living in a recliner in the lobby of her San Juan apartment building since Hurricane Maria brought ruin to Puerto Rico.

She listens to a sputtering generator outside that runs her oxygen mixing machine and steals fleeting calls to her daughter when the universe aligns and mobile service works.

“Oh my God. Get me out. You have to get me out,” she said in the second call she managed to make after Maria hit Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 hurricane Sept. 20.

But it wasn’t until Scott Lewis, who runs the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation, learned of Hennessey’s plight that there was hope of an extraction.

Madelaine Hennessey, now 80, seen during a previous birthday with her grandchildren. Photo courtesy Lisa Suhay

As conditions deteriorate and aid missions stumble, Lewis’ foundation is on its way today to get Hennessey, and at least one other senior citizen – a more than 300-pound woman trapped on the sixth-floor of a nursing home with no electricity to run the elevator. Lewis said she has been drinking toilet water to survive.

Lewis sent two planes this morning into devastated Puerto Rico.

He said the situation on the island is dire, and occurring in an environment where two preceding disasters – hurricanes Harvey and Irma – are complicating getting help to the island.

Related: Follow The Post’s ongoing Hurricane Irma coverage here.

Getting flights into Puerto Rico is a challenge in itself, but with relief efforts still occurring in the Keys and Houston, navigating charter flights in the U.S. is also proving tricky.

“There are eight small countries suffering catastrophic problems in the Caribbean and then Houston and the Keys,” Lewis said. “People aren’t grasping the size and complexity of this situation.”

Lewis said he is most concerned about senior citizens in nursing homes stranded on upper floors with no water, food or electricity.

Today’s mission, which includes a special extraction team of armed guards and medics, is focused on finding elderly people to evacuate. Lewis said he is working with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Related: Remembering Hurricane Katrina 

“I see the potential for the nursing home deaths that happened during Irma to exponentially happen in Puerto Rico,” Lewis said. “There are extremely urgent unmet needs .”

It was through the Coast Guard that Lewis learned of Hennessey’s plight. A family friend, Virginia-resident Lisa Suhay, had made call after call trying to get help for Hennessey. News Editor for the Waterway Guide in Norfolk, Suhay spent days trying to contact FEMA  before turning to Twitter to reach out to anyone who was on the ground in Puerto Rico and might be able to get her to an airport.

“They have arranged what no one else could,” Suhay said about Eagles Wings. “I just can’t say enough good things about this foundation.”

Suhay said Hennessey has relatives in Florida who are trying to get to West Palm Beach to meet her at the airport today.

A man runs as people line up with gas cans to get fuel from a gas station, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The U.S. ramped up its response Monday to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico while the Trump administration sought to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of it efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Lewis has led recovery efforts for 28 hurricanes with his nonprofit Eagles Wings Foundation and Pathfinders Task Force. He emphasizes that the foundation has no paid employees.

This year, Lewis and his team have already spent weeks in Houston after Hurricane Harvey and in the Keys after Hurricane Irma struck Sept. 10.

He also was part of Hurricane Katrina recovery in Gulfport, Miss.

“I’ve never had anything like this before. Harvey to Irma to Maria,” Lewis said.

GULFPORT – Scott Lewis provides a group of emergency workers with words of encouragement and direction before they hit the road to locate and treat area citizens suffering from hurricane related medical needs after . Photo by Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach

Lewis is asking for donations to his Eagles Wings Foundation. 

“The situation is rapidly deteriorating,” Lewis said in a text message. “There are three million people in Puerto Rico. The news has not caught the full impact of what’s about to happen there.”

(Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post) PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – Scott Lewis (cq), founder of Eagles Wings Pathfinders, rides with UN troops leading his trucks with food through Port-au-Prince Wednesday afternoon. Lewis says security agreements with troops of the 82nd Airborne Division fell apart during the day, leading to a frustrating day where no aid was delivered.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.