N.Y. Gov. Cuomo, Congresswoman Velázquez bring help to Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) arrived to Puerto Rico on Friday, with a shipment of generators, blankets, food, clots and other resources, as part of their efforts to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria. They both vowed more resources are on their way.
“The New York-Puerto Rico connection is so strong, they don’t even have to ask us for help […] We are family, you do not have to call the family for help,” said Cuomo, who came to the island with her daughter.
“It’s going to be a long road and it’s going to be a difficult road. We will be with you at every step,” he added, while announcing that additional shipments from the Empire State can be expected, with food, water and manpower to assess damages and help in the recovery efforts.
As for Velázquez, a Puerto Rican, she will push in Congress for a one-year waiver for the island from the cabotage restrictions under the Jones Act. She will also lobby for additional disaster relief funds for both the commonwealth and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were also affected by Hurricane María.
“Gov. Rosselló has done an incredible job,” noted the congresswoman about the Puerto Rico governor’s job in managing the emergency which left thousands of houses destroyed, more than 15,000 refugees and six confirmed deaths as of this writing.
The governor and congresswoman of New York arrived Friday in Puerto Rico, and accompanied Gov. Rosselló during damage-assessment efforts during the day. Cuomo and Velázquez said the state is in a position to provide all the necessary assistance, not only with supplies and emergency brigades , but also with resources to restore the battered energy system.
“The Puerto Rican diaspora, our heart is with you. We will use all our resources, our political power in Washington [D.C.] to put pressure for Puerto Rico to be allocated the funds it needs,” said Velázquez.
Gov. Cuomo also called on the federal government to provide the necessary funding to the Puerto Rico government, which must have enough flexibility in determining its use, according to the governor.
Gov. Rosselló thanked the New York delegation for the help provided and for being “a friend of Puerto Rico since Day 1.”
A total of 54 towns were already declared as disaster areas by U.S. President Donald Trump, which allowed residents of affected areas to seek aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The federal agency, among others, is also assisting the commonwealth government with resources and in recovery efforts.
Caribbean Business reporter Cindy Burgos contributed to this story.