Resident commissioner gives US Codel tour of hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González (R-Puerto Rico) accompanied a U.S. congressional delegation and government officials on an aerial tour of the island, giving them a firsthand look that should help them identify its needs when working in their respective congressional committees.
González stressed the importance of government representatives visiting to witness the devastation caused by Hurricane María so they can reach agreements that result in action that benefits the storm’s victims. She said House Speaker Paul Ryan will also be visiting the island this week with another congressional delegation.
U.S. Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Claire M. Grady, the Navy and Coast Guard made the large congressional delegation’s trip possible.
The members of Congress flew from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and from their began their air tour over the municipalities of Utuado, Ciales, Morovis, Arecibo, Toa Baja, Barceloneta, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Dorado and Hatillo.
Upon landing, they held a meeting about the state of the island’s ports, with information provided by Coast Guard Capt. Eric P. King, who has led several humanitarian aid missions. In turn, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave an overall report of the island’s pressing needs and the work carried out and underway.
The delegation also met with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which is serving as the Government Operations Center (COE) during the emergency, where they expressed their support for the island’s recovery.
The congressional delegation was composed of Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Cory Gardner (R-CO) chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) ) ranking member, Personnel Subcommittee, Senate Armed Services Committee; Tim Kaine (D-VA) ranking member, Readiness & Management Support Subcommittee, Senate Armed Services Committee; and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senate Armed Services Committee.
Besides the resident commissioner, who is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, were Reps. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Transportation & Infrastructure Committee; Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member, House Homeland Security Committee; Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Transportation & Infrastructure Committee; and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), House Armed Services Committee
They were also accompanied by Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, Coast Guard personnel such as Rear Adm. Scott A. Buschman and Port of San Juan’s Capt. King; the director of FEMA for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Alejandro de la Campa; personnel from the Department of Defense, the White House, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Department of Homeland Security.