Report by New Jersey Commission on Puerto Rico Relief released
SAN JUAN – New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the release Thursday of a New Jersey Commission on Puerto Rico Relief report that outlines recommendations for the state to assist more than 30,000 Puerto Ricans who remain there following Hurricane Maria, as well as ways the state can help the island.
On Feb. 12, Murphy signed Executive Order 10, which established an 18-member commission (16 from New Jersey and 2 from Puerto Rico) tasked with collaborating with state and federal agencies to expedite aid for Puerto Ricans impacted by Maria. The order required the commission to issue a report outlining its findings within 90 days. According to the announcing release, since the commission was established it has helped achieve the following:
- Donation of the State’s Sandy Integrated Recovery Operations and Management System (SIROMS) to Puerto Rico – an IT platform allowing the state to deploy and monitor services after a natural disaster – for use during future storms;
- Communication with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to secure a moratorium extension for people owning properties on Puerto Rico that are now facing foreclosure;
- Conducting energy strategy sessions between PSEG [Public Service Enterprise Group, whose subsidiary is New Jersey’s Public Service Electric and Gas Company] and Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to improve the island’s aging energy infrastructure.
Recommendations in the report include:
- The creation of one-stop service centers where evacuees can collect resources provided by all departments and agencies;
- Translation and interpreter services at relevant departments and agencies;
- Bilingual service guides distributed throughout the community;
- Creation of new grant programs targeted toward English language learning for workplace success;
- The creation of new partnerships between New Jersey state departments with agencies and companies in Puerto Rico;
- The creation of a strategic partnership with Puerto Rico’s Department of Education to allow New Jersey schools to accept students without education records and waive application fees for educator certificates.
“It is unacceptable that eight months after Hurricane Maria’s landfall, so many of our fellow Americans are still lacking access to electricity and safe water,” Murphy said in the press release. “We are committed to helping those who came to New Jersey, those who remain in Puerto Rico, and those who wish to return to the island. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations and continuing to assist Puerto Ricans both in our state and on the island.”
“We would like to thank Governor Murphy and the Commission for all the services designed towards the Puerto Rican community that sought refuge in New Jersey after Hurricane Maria hit the Island,” Rosselló added. “The category five winds devastated not only our electrical infrastructure but the homes of thousands of Puerto Ricans. Thanks to the solidarity of Governor Murphy and the community in New Jersey, many Puerto Ricans were able to move to a safe place to ensure the welfare of children, the elderly, and the sick. Our commitment is that Puerto Ricans can gradually return to our Island and those who wish to stay in other jurisdictions can have an orderly transition after the emergency caused by the hurricane in Puerto Rico.”