Governors Call on Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell to Fully Fund $94.4 Billion Disaster Relief Aid Package
More Than 130 Days After Hurricane Maria – Statewide Rallies Build on Governor Cuomo’s Nation-Leading Efforts to Help Puerto Rico Recover and Rebuild
Make Your Voice Heard: Call Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell to Provide Immediate Relief for Puerto Rico – Speaker Paul Ryan, (202) 225-0600; Senate Majority Leader McConnell, (202) 224-2541
NEW YORK, NY — February 3, 2018 — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló today joined more than one thousand New Yorkers across the state to rally in support of Puerto Rico and call on the federal government to fully fund the island’s $94.4 billion disaster relief aid package. At a rally in New York City, Governors Cuomo and Rosselló urged Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to provide immediate relief to New York’s brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, with this unprecedented call to action replicated at events in Albany, Buffalo, Cornell, Rochester and Syracuse. This wave of support builds on Governor Cuomo’s continued commitment to help the people of Puerto Rico build back and restore its power grid, which suffered severe damage from Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
“Puerto Rico is not a foreign country. These are American citizens, our brothers and sisters, and as New Yorkers it is our responsibility to ensure they have the resources they need to recover and rebuild,” Governor Cuomo said. “While the federal administration flounders and our neighbors remain living in unacceptable conditions, New York’s commitment to Puerto Rico will not rest. We are calling on President Trump and his administration to fully fund the aid package Puerto Rico so desperately needs, and to finally deliver fairness for our fellow Americans citizens.”
“From day one, Governor Cuomo has stepped up to help Puerto Rico recover, and he continues to step up every day with supplies, resources and support,” Governor Ricardo Rosselló said. “Thanks to his support and our New York brothers and sisters, we have made great strides in our recovery, but there is still much work to be done. We stand united as we call on Congress to give us the help we so desperately need to fully rebuild back stronger than before.”
Building on Governor Cuomo’s efforts to deliver resources to the island through the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort and the Mutual Aid process, rally events attended by hundreds of New Yorkers took place across the state on Saturday, February 3. Events took place in:
• Albany at the Albany Labor Temple
• Buffalo at The Belle Center
• Ithaca at Cornell University’s Biotechnology Building
• Rochester at Our Lady of the Americas Church
• Syracuse at The Warehouse Building
Since Puerto Rico’s recovery process began more than 130 days ago, progress has been made in restoring power to some communities, but critical improvements remain gridlocked by the lack of attention and funding from the federal government, including the restoration of power to nearly one-third of the island.
To urge the federal government to immediately and fully fund the $94.4 billion Build Back Better Plan, call your Speaker Paul Ryan at (202) 225-0600 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at (202) 224-2541 and make your voice heard.
Restoring Power to Puerto Rico
At the Governor’s direction and led by the New York Power Authority, the New York utility contingent working on power restoration in the San Juan metro area have restored power to nearly 280,000 customers, roughly 91 percent of the customers in the area. With 297 distribution circuits restored, the New York contingent is entering the last mile of its power restoration efforts, and it is anticipated that electricity services will be substantially restored to the San Juan region by mid-March.
Since November, under the Governor’s direction, New York State has maintained a contingent of more than 450 utility workers, led by NYPA, including workers from Con Edison, National Grid, PSEG, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp, and AVANGRID. The teams have been coordinating directly with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in cooperation with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The crews have been undertaking repairs to transmission lines and supporting other electric infrastructure work. These dedicated utility workers arrived with hundreds of bucket trucks, diggers, excavators and other specialized equipment for undertaking the necessary repairs to damaged transmission and distribution lines.
Building Puerto Rico Back Better In December, Governors Cuomo and Rosselló and members of the New York Congressional Delegation released a Build Back Better Assessment Report that called for a $94.4 billion federal aid package to rebuild a stronger, more resilient Puerto Rico. The plan identified specific sectors needing investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture and others. Together with $487 million for public safety and first response and $9 billion for long-term recovery management, the total funding need is $94.4 billion.
Governor Cuomo also established the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Working Group and released the “Build Back Better” report, a comprehensive plan with recommendations on how to rebuild and transform Puerto Rico’s power system into one that it is more resilient, efficient, advanced and less dependent on fossil fuel imports that cost Puerto Ricans more than $2 billion annually. The report, created by the Energy Resiliency Working Group, identifies and recommends a total of $17 billion in power system repair, resiliency and modernization investments in Puerto Rico.
Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort
New York has deployed more than 1,000 personnel and distributed 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state:
Personnel deployed include:
• More than 450 New York utility personnel, more than 50 Tactical Power Restoration experts, and 15 damage assessment experts
• 132 National Guard Military Police
• 125 National Guard Engineers
• 60 National Guard soldiers
• Four Black Hawk helicopters
• 14 Airmen
• 156 Volunteer Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners
• More than 70 Port Authority personnel
• More than 130 State Troopers
• Five-member logistical support team from the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
• Two Department of Environmental Conservation drone pilots
Supplies distributed include:
• 3.2 million bottles of water
• 3.1 million individual baby wipes
• 1.9 million diapers
• 321,830 feminine products
• 101,520 containers of baby food
• 91,164 canned goods
• 64,400 bottles/pouches of juice/sport drinks
• 13,275 flashlights
• 8,600 solar lamps
• 5,440 first aid kits
• 1,181 water filtration systems
• 155,000 miles of utility cable, 7,600 splice kits 1,485 cross arms and 50 transformers for power restoration efforts
• More than $1 million in critical medication and supplies for San Juan, Vieques, Culebra and other locations, in partnership with GNYHA and the Afya Foundation
John Leguizamo said, “Ensuring Puerto Rico receives critical funding to rebuild is the right thing to do, and as fellow American citizens, it is time our federal government steps up and ensures residents of the island get the support they deserve. I stand by Governor Cuomo and his call to action, to not only demand this federal aid, but to stand with our brothers and sisters in this desperate and ongoing time of need. New Yorkers have always and will always continue to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most, and this statewide call to action is just another example of how we will continue to stand with Puerto Rico until the island fully recovers.”
Carlos Beltrán said, “Many New Yorkers have been directly affected by the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Maria, as friends and family struggle to pick up the pieces and rebuild their homes on the island. It is absurd that after all this time, the people of Puerto Rico have still not received adequate care and financial assistance they so desperately need and deserve. Now is the time to take a stand and support Governor Cuomo’s efforts to demand action from our federal government – action that was needed nearly 5 months ago. Our brothers and sisters deserve to be treated like every other citizen and state, and I urge our federal administration to take action.”
Congressman José E. Serrano said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, New York has been leading the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. But our state cannot act alone. Puerto Rico needs comprehensive federal relief that addresses problems across the board- from housing to health care to resilient infrastructure. It is long past time for this Republican Administration and Congress to step up and help American citizens who have been devastated this hurricane season.”
Senator José M. Serrano Jr. said, “I stand in solidarity with Governor Cuomo as we call on the federal administration to fund the $95 billion dollar disaster relief package that will rebuild communities and restore power to Puerto Rico. It’s been more than five months since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, and with much of the island still without power, it is time for our federal government to step up and take action that was needed on day one to help our fellow Americans.”
Senator Tim Kennedy said, “New Yorkers should be proud of the way we stepped up to the plate, united as one, to support Puerto Rico in her time of need. But the job is not yet done. I’ve visited Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and the devastation and widespread damage is heartbreaking. While New York will continue to stand with Puerto Rico every step of the way, I join Governor Cuomo in calling on the federal government to deliver critical resources and aid to help Puerto Rico as they continue down the long road to recovery. Puerto Ricans are Americans and they need our help now.”
Senator Rich Funke said, “More than four months ago, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Rochester and IBERO have been a refuge as the island continues to recover and rebuild, assisting over 3000 residents in numerous capacities. Our community will continue to stand in partnership with Governor Cuomo in support of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.”
Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo said, “Every single New Yorker should be proud of the swift response that our state had to assist Puerto Rico following the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria. When the federal government failed to provide critical relief to the island, New Yorkers were there to help Puerto Rico pick up the pieces and rebuild their communities stronger and better than before. These men, women and children are our fellow Americans – we cannot turn our back on them in their time of greatest need. Along with Governor Cuomo, I urge the federal government to provide vital resources to help Puerto Rico continue their recovery efforts.”
Assemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda said, “The road to recovery following Hurricane Maria has been a long and trying time for the people of Puerto Rico. Thanks to the support of Governor Cuomo and countless New Yorkers, progress is being made every day but the work is far from over. The $95 billion federal aid package is vital to the continued efforts to restore power, rebuild communities and provide clean water access to the island. We urge the federal government to do its part and immediately approve this critical funding.”
Assemblywoman Maritza Davilia said, “More than four months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, tens-of-thousands of citizens are still without power and clean drinking water. Enough is enough. It is time the federal government followed Governor Cuomo’s lead and provide these people the relief they so desperately need. I join both Governors in urging Washington to stop dragging its feet and fully fund the $95 billion aid package.”
Assemblywoman Carmen N. De La Rosa said, “For more than 130 days, our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico have worked day-by-day to rebuild their lives and island after being ravaged by Hurricane Maria. We here in New York have not forgotten our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters and we have been on the ground with them, providing support and supplies so desperately needed, since day one. It has become increasingly obvious to many that much more assistance is needed – we call on the federal government to fully fund the $95 billion dollar aid package that will let the citizens of Puerto Rico finally move forward with the hope of a better tomorrow.”
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “The City of Buffalo is strengthened by our many residents of Puerto Rican heritage, and New York and Puerto Rico have long had a special connection. In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, New Yorkers across the state have proudly stepped up to help our brothers and sisters in need. But the federal government has failed to uphold its responsibility to the American people, instead treating the people of Puerto Rico as second class citizens. I applaud Governor Cuomo for saying enough is enough and I join him in calling on President Trump to do the right thing and deliver the assistance Puerto Rico needs to achieve a full recovery. The future of the Island and our fellow citizens is at stake.”
Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. said, “The response from New Yorkers has been inspiring, and there is no doubt that Puerto Rico is better off today than it would be without the support and dedication of New Yorkers. It is imperative that we continue to shine a light on the devastation in Puerto Rico and that we get the federal government to act. New Yorkers are doing their part, and now it is time for President Trump and the Federal government to do theirs.”
Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. said, “As someone of Puerto Rican heritage, it’s at times like these where we cannot forget the lasting contributions the Puerto Rican people have made to the Bronx, our city and our state. Now in Puerto Rico’s time of need, we must continue to do all we can through aid and advocacy to ensure our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters recover. I’m proud to join Governor Cuomo as New York leads in these efforts.”
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, “When Hurricane Maria devastated the Island of Puerto Rico, Governor Cuomo led immediate relief efforts to help those in need. People from across State, including many from Central New York, stepped up to volunteer, donate or provide aid to those in need and we are grateful for their effort.”
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “Governor Cuomo and the people of New York State have long been friends to Puerto Rico and were proud to be among those who rose to the occasion when our countrymen needed assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Through the Empire State Relief and Recovery Act, Governor Cuomo has provided much needed services, goods and donations to help aid those in need following the devastation. New York will always step up to help our fellow Americans, and I urge the federal administration to do the same and provide the critical aid that our friends and fellow citizens in Puerto Rico deserve.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “Puerto Rico is still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Many are still without power or clean water, and are struggling to rebuild their lives and their island. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership and direction, New York has been on the forefront of the relief effort, providing critical supplies, personnel and most importantly, care to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. It is past time that the federal government step up and commit to a fully funded aid package, following New York’s lead in providing much needed assistance in Puerto Rico.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “Five months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the island is still without essential resources. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has served as a vital ally to Puerto Rico, taking necessary action to help those in need. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his support during this long recovery and rebuilding process, and urge the federal government to follow New York’s lead.”
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “It is no surprise that Governor Cuomo guided New York to the aid of Puerto Rico, because when someone is in need, New Yorkers always step up. New York has provided critical resources to those in Puerto Rico. These are dire circumstances, and I urge our federal government to provide full aid and funding to those in need in Puerto Rico.”
Capital Region Building Trades President Jeff Stark said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has been a vital ally to Puerto Rico as they continue to rebuild and recover from the crippling aftermath of Hurricane Maria yet the federal government continues to drag its feet on taking action to help these victims. We are calling on our representatives in Washington to step up and send resources, funding and aid to Puerto Rico to assist in the continuing recovery efforts. These are our fellow Americans and to deny them this critical, life-saving aid is abhorrent to everything we stand for as a nation.”
IBERO President & CEO Hilda Escher said, “Puerto Rico is still far from recovered from the devastating impact that Hurricane Maria had on its communities nearly four months ago. Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has been a steadfast presence, offering support, supplies and personnel as the island rebuilds and restores its infrastructure. However, without continued assistance, the island will undoubtedly suffer – the federal government must act and deliver crucial aid to our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters to fast-track the recovery process and stand by our fellow Americans.”
Belle Center Executive Director Lucy Candelario said, “New York has shown what it means to be there for our fellow Americans in their time of greatest need. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has sent critically needed supplies and resources to assist in the recovery efforts on the island yet the federal government has yet to do their part. I urge our representatives in Washington to immediately send assistance to Puerto Rico and to commit themselves to helping the island recover and rebuild.”
Syracuse University Vice President of Community Engagement Bea Gonzalez said, “It has been more than 120 days since Hurricane Maria devastated parts of the United States, including Puerto Rico. However the island of Puerto Rico is still nowhere near what it was before the storm. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, New York State has been a key supporter as the island has navigated its long and road to recovery. It is critical that the federal government deliver much-needed assistance as quickly as possible to the people of Puerto Rico.”
Cornell University Professor Of American Studies and Dean of Continuing Education and Summer Session Glenn C. Altschuler said, “Thousands of Puerto Ricans are still without power and access to clean drinking water, and Washington’s response has clearly been inadequate. We must help Puerto Rico build back their communities so that they can get back to their normal lives. I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo, other New York leaders, and my colleagues at Cornell University to help Puerto Rico rebuild and recover.”
For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico, and to learn how you can assist, please visit the Governor’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.
SOURCE: New York State, Executive Chamber, Press Office.