Gov. Cuomo to lead effort to sue Trump, gov’t over hurricane response in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN –New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that his state will lead the effort “for displaced Puerto Ricans in New York – with the latest count exceeding 11,000 people – to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and the federal government for failing to adequately respond and provide assistance” following Hurricane Maria.
The governor’s “commitment to lead the effort” to file the lawsuit is specifically “due to the obvious discrepancies in federal response to and treatment of citizens impacted by Hurricane Harvey, which primarily hit Texas, and Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and other areas,” as it was put in a release by the governor’s office.
“President Trump never tried to help Puerto Rico. Florida got attention, Texas got attention, and Puerto Rico got the short end of the stick. That is not just wrong and unethical and despicable, it is also illegal,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to work with Puerto Rican families and sue the President of the United States because New York is standing with Puerto Rico the way we said we would. We are going to fight back and we’re going to show this President that the law is the law.”
The following are the “disparities” listed in the release:
· A three week wait: It took at least three weeks for federal helicopters – critical for saving victims and delivering emergency supplies – to fly above Puerto Rico, contrasting with the 73 U.S. Northern Command helicopters that few over Houston within six days of Hurricane Harvey.
· Lack of funding: Nine days after the hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus just $6.2 million for Maria victims.
· Lack of food and water: During the first nine days after Harvey, FEMA provided 5.1 million meals, 4.5 million liters of water and over 20,000 tarps to Houston. In that same period, FEMA delivered just 1.6 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water and roughly 5,000 tarps to Puerto Rico.
· Sparse resources: Nine days after Harvey, the federal government had 30,000 emergency and response personnel in the Houston region, compared with 10,000 at the same point after Maria. Additionally, it took just 10 days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster work for Texas, compared with 43 days for Puerto Rico.
· Unacceptable relief: Seventy-eight days after each hurricane, FEMA had approved 39 percent of federal applications for relief from victims of Harvey, versus just 28 percent for Maria.
“The federal government turned its back on our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and failed to help them rebuild and recover,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul added in the governor’s release. “In New York we’re proud to provide resources and assistance to those impacted by Hurricane Maria, and we will continue to help displaced families. This lawsuit is the next step in holding President Trump and the federal government accountable for their inaction and making sure Puerto Ricans are able to fully recover.”