The three-star general spearheading the military's Hurricane Maria relief efforts on Puerto Rico said the aftermath of the storm, which hit in September, is the "worst" he's witnessed firsthand.
"Sometimes we don't know what's going to happen until the storm actually hits, and this is the worst I've ever seen," Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the Department of Defense's chief military liaison with FEMA, told PBS. "The people here need help and we're going to give them all the help that we can."
Buchanan made the comments after surveying the damage from a helicopter, flying from Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan to Ceiba on the southeast tip of the island.
Problems with roads have been exacerbating access issues in the interior of the U.S. territory, he added.
"The roads are now clear on the outside of the island, and we're slowly working our way in," Buchanan said. "But we obviously need to get all the roads cleared, so we can get supplies to people who desperately need them."
Buchanan said another priority was providing fuel and generator maintenance to hospitals before fixing the electrical lines so they can be reconnected to Puerto Rico's power grid in the long-term.
"The people of Puerto Rico are going to be very resilient and we're going to need them to be resilient so they can help rebuild this, this commonwealth, and make it what it really should be," he concluded. "But there is going to be some parts were we are going to have to start from scratch."