FEMA Pledges Help for Puerto Rico Morgue's Cadaver Backlog

(Bloomberg) -- Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress said the federal government will commit money and personnel to resolve a backlog of corpses at the island’s morgue, which had gotten so bad that the commonwealth had to use refrigerated trailers in a parking lot.

Jenniffer Gonzalez, the island’s non-voting representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency pledged to allocate $2 million to resolve the matter. Gonzalez also said in an interview that she was promised military pathologists to aid in processing hundreds of cadavers.

FEMA spokesman Juan Rosado-Reynes confirmed that the agency had asked the Department of Health and Human Services to dispatch teams of specialists to the island for an assessment. The specialists will arrive Monday, and they will evaluate the need for equipment and subject matter experts, according to Rosado-Reynes. His emailed response didn’t address Gonzalez’s other assertions.

The bureau’s shorthanded team of forensic experts have been overwhelmed, especially since Hurricane Maria, which killed untold numbers and triggered an uptick in violence. Until now, FEMA’s role at the morgue had been limited to providing -- but not operating -- the refrigerated containers.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.