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Marcus Lemonis: 'There are people that are seeing no signs of any relief' in Puerto Rico

  • There appears to be a broken logistics process in Puerto Rico, serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis told CNBC on Thursday.
  • Two weeks after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria, many of its 3.4 million residents are still struggling without basic necessities.
  • In some areas outside of San Juan, there are no signs of water, food or other relief supplies, Lemonis said.

There appears to be a broken logistics process in Puerto Rico, serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis told CNBC on Thursday.

Two weeks after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria, many of its 3.4 million residents are still struggling without basic necessities.

Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and host of CNBC's "The Profit," has been touring Puerto Rico and said in the capital of San Juan, things are "moving pretty nicely."

Water and electricity are up and running and traffic is "not bad," he told "Power Lunch."

"As you get two, three miles outside — and let me be clear, the roads and the bridges in most cases are working — there are people that are seeing no signs of any relief. No water, no food nothing. At the dock, piles of food, piles of water. In the small towns, nothing," he added.

People collect water from a natural spring created by the landslides in a mountain next to a road in Corozal, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria.
Ricardo Arduengo | AFP | Getty Images
People collect water from a natural spring created by the landslides in a mountain next to a road in Corozal, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria.

He's not sure the government has its arms around the logistics and said it isn't clear who is in charge.

"We know there's not a lack of support or funding or supplies but in terms of getting it throughout the island, it's not happening," he said.

The Puerto Rico supply chain suffered serious backlog after the hurricane hit, but started to show some signs of improvement last weekend. Many cargo, storage yard and distribution companies kept their doors open in order to try and alleviate some of the backlog of emergency supplies.

'Mass exodus'

One big problem for Puerto Rico is its bonds, which plunged Wednesday after President Donald Trump said the U.S. territory's $72 billion debt would have to be wiped out. On Wednesday, Gov. Ricardo Rossello urged bondholders to help Puerto Rico secure money from Congress to rebuild.

Another problem is the "mass exodus" of people leaving the island, Lemonis said.

They are "saying candidly, 'I don't know if I'm going to come back,'" he said.

Rossello is concerned about those departures, but told reporters, "We can't do anything about that in the short term."

He warned the exodus could continue long term unless Puerto Rico gets a federal aid package commensurate with the damage that can spur recovery.

— CNBC's Contessa Brewer and Reuters contributed to this report.