Hurricane Fiona: N.Y. lawmakers vow quick response after Puerto Rico left in dark by storm
New York Daily News, The (NY)
From City Hall to Capitol Hill, New York lawmakers demanded quick action on Tuesday to respond to the deepening crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona lashed the island, leaving millions in the dark.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he spoke to Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Deanne Criswell to urge her to spare no effort to meet the needs of millions of Puerto Ricans suffering without power and others without drinkable water.
“We’re urging the admin to ... advance funding to Puerto Rico in this critical moment,” the powerful Democrat said.
Calling Puerto Rico the “sixth borough,” New York City Mayor Adams said he had already dispatched a team of emergency management experts to the stricken island where millions of New Yorkers trace their roots.
“As Hurricane Fiona leaves behind a path of destruction, our administration stands ready to provide all of the support and aid our brothers and sisters need,” Adams said.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), the dean of the Puerto Rican caucus in Congress, said the crisis was completely predictable because needed changes were not implemented after Hurricane Maria devastated the island five years ago.
“I said, even (a category 1 hurricane). . . the power grid will collapse. And here we are,” Velazquez said. “Today, 90% of the people of Puerto Rico are without power.”
Democrats want President Biden to show Puerto Ricans he can do a better job of leading the storm recovery than President Donald Trump did with Maria, when he infamously tossed paper towels to a crowd of desperate storm victims.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the No. 4 Democratic leader in the House, called for the federal government to rush aid to the island.
He vowed that Congress would take action if needed.
“Once we have some greater visibility in terms of the actual needs ... we can then comprehensively respond in a manner that is both humane and necessary,” Jeffries said.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) retweeted a letter she and other lawmakers sent last year demanding faster reforms to bolster Puerto Rico’s troubled electric grid.
“This weekend’s infrastructure failure was tragically predictable,” the progressive firebrand said.
“Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. Just giving money isn’t enough. A reliable and sustainable grid must be built,” added Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.)
Ironically, lawmakers had already scheduled a Tuesday press conference to mark the fifth anniversary of Maria. It turned into a clarion call for Fiona relief.
“It is our duty now our responsibility to right the wrongs,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.)
“The federal government has to do its job,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) “(It) has to help the people of Puerto Rico survive, recover and rebuild.”