USNS Comfort waits for sick Puerto Ricans, but no one knows how to get on it

Ducks perch on the branch of a tree next to a home destroyed by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Thursday, insisting in tweets that the federal government can’t keep sending help “forever” and suggesting the U.S. territory was to blame for its financial struggles. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

(CNN/WAVY) – Nearly two weeks after President Trump visited Puerto Rico, the official death toll has tripled to at least 48. As CNN’s Leyla Santiago reports, much of the emergency help available to Puerto Ricans is going unused – because of disorganization and confusion.

The family of 18-year-old Sammy lost everything. Their home completely flooded nearly four weeks ago.

“I walk miles every day. I lost my car. I lost Sammy’s minivan. Everything,” said Sammy’s father, Jose Cruz.

The National Guard rescued them. But when the family took Sammy to the hospital it was full. They are now living in a school turned into a clinic, run by volunteers.

“He can become acutely ill if he continues to be here,” explained Dr. Jorge Rosado with San Jorge Children’s Hospital.

Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy have left Sammy bedridden. He needs surgery and more. The help Sammy needs to stay alive can be found offshore.

The USNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy floating hospital, left Naval Station Norfolk two weeks ago and is ready to serve. The state-of-the-art operation is now at Puerto Rico’s disposal.

“Anyone who comes to the Comfort we are happy to see,” said Capt. Kevin Buckley.

He said many of the beds are empty.

“I know that we have capacity. I know that we have the capability to help. What the situation on the ground is… that’s not in my lane to make a decision,” said Capt. Buckley.

The Department of Health decides which patients are lucky enough to come on board.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello told CNN’s Leyla Santiago, “The disconnect or the apparent disconnect was in the communication flow.”

Hospitals in the area said they don’t know how to send their patients to the Comfort.

Governor Rossello acknowledged the system, the communication, must get better.

As of this report, only 33 of the 250 beds on the Comfort have patients, as generators at hospitals fail and vital medical supplies run short.

It’s tough for vulnerable families, like the Cruz’, knowing the Comfort could help. “I feel horrible. Because I can’t help him.

President Trump said Monday that plenty of clean water and food has been sent to Puerto Rico. He blamed local authorities for not distributing it to the people who need it.

10 On your side reached out to lawmakers.  Senator’s Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Congressmen Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman all said they are keeping tabs on the situation and believe more needs to be done to help in Puerto Rico.

Mr. Scott said, ” It is incumbent for Congress to pass a robust recovery package for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and others areas impacted by hurricanes this season. However, it should not require an act of Congress to fix some of these bureaucratic logistical logjams in getting medical and other assistance to people that need it.”