Chicago mayor leads delegation visit to Puerto Rico
The mayor is participating in the visit as part of the Open Society Foundations’ (OSF) Mayor Exchange program. The initiative connects stateside officials with their counterparts in Puerto Rico to support rebuilding efforts on the island.
“Chicago has a vibrant and strong Puerto Rican community that has answered the call to support their brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico from the first moments Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Chicagoans have come together to raise money and donate supplies for the people of Puerto Rico, and we’re honored–and humbled–to deliver on those robust efforts this weekend.”
Emanuel will visit with Mayor Josian Santiago of Comerio, where some 1,700 homes are still without roofs and the water infrastructure needs repair, and Mayor Julia M. Nazario of Loíza, where more than 60 percent of buildings and homes were affected by Maria and 20 percent totally destroyed, according to the Chicago mayor’s announcement.
Both Puerto Rican mayors are expected to fly to Chicago in April to learn about the city’s emergency-preparedness operations and continue to build support networks for the island.
About 40 mayors will be participating in the exchange program to share “ideas, expertise and lessons learned from their own recovery efforts, giving those officials on the front lines of the island’s crisis a direct line for aid and consultation on the myriad humanitarian, fiscal and rebuilding challenges ahead,” the release reads.
“The City of Chicago and the people of Chicago have stepped up to support the people of Puerto Rico while the federal government has dropped the ball. Six months into this crisis, Mayor Emanuel and his team are still working with the Puerto Rican community in Chicago to help in any way they can.
“The support is very much appreciated and we are making sure on this trip that the connections are made mayor to mayor because that is where a lot of the best work is getting done. I am personally doing my best to make sure that the people of Puerto Rico do not feel forgotten or abandoned because the need is still great and the fact that our President has turned his back makes it all the more important that the rest of us show up to help,” Gutierrez adds in the release.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu chairs the OSF Mayor Exchange, along with Puerto Rico Mayors Pedro García Figueroa of Hormigueros and Javier Jiménez Pérez of San Sebastián and OSF President Patrick Gaspard.
The Mayor Exchange is funded by the Open Society Foundations and is being managed by HR&A Advisors, a New York-based consulting firm.
Chicago established a website to contribute to disaster relief efforts