Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo discuss the devastation in Puerto Rico

Darren McGee / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico last week, it devastated the island, leaving millions of Americans without power, possibly for up to six months. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, who were both born in Puerto Rico and still have family there, visited the territory with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday to survey the damage. They spoke with the Slant Podcast about what they encountered.

“There are two words for me to describe it: devastation, destruction,” Velazquez said. “This is a different Puerto Rico.”

Crespo noted that the hurricane has exacerbated the health care crisis in Puerto Rico. The island already has a shortage of doctors, but without power, Crespo said, it is even more difficult for people to receive care.

“Health and health outreach has to be a priority, and we’re going to need a lot of help,” he said.

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The lawmakers also talked about how important it is to recognize that American citizens are suffering.

“We have to stop this nonsense in terms of making a distinction between a U.S. territory and the rest of the states,” Velazquez said. “This is a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of responsibility, it’s a matter of assisting our American citizens.”

The two also discussed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to aid Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump’s response to the crisis, and what New Yorkers can do to help.

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