Puerto Rico needs federal aid now, more than ever
As the island faces another natural disaster, New York politicians ask President Donald Trump to release its promised aid.
Early Monday morning, a series of earthquakes wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico.
The natural wonder Punta Ventana, a rock formation, was destroyed, as were schools, churches and homes. The earthquakes caused the death of one person and injured several others. And the island’s residents were widely left without power and water.
A second 6.4-magnitude earthquake – possibly the worst earthquake Puerto Rico has experienced in a century – hit the island on Tuesday, which caused significant damage to the island’s power plants and resulted in a power outage that affected 97% of the island. Power was restored to half a million of the island’s 1.5 million power users on Wednesday morning, but the service is expected to be unreliable in the weeks to come.
Reporters located on the island have been documenting the damage that has resulted from these earthquakes.
Amid the earthquake devastation at Immaculate Conception church in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico look at the items which appear to be untouched. pic.twitter.com/Hi7voiGjO6— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 8, 2020
Just arrived in Guanica, Puerto Rico pic.twitter.com/buldW7JlIe— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 7, 2020
At the shelter in Guanica, where 225 people are now sitting in the parking lot waiting for tents to arrive. They no longer feel safe in the coliseum. As I filmed this video, I could feel the ground shaking beneath me. pic.twitter.com/I8LGOWC0OD— Leyla Santiago (@leylasantiago) January 7, 2020
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, quickly responded to the natural disaster on Monday, announcing that the New York Power Authority would be deployed to the island, as it had been after Hurricane Maria in 2017. During his State of the State address on Wednesday, the governor mentioned the earthquake at the beginning of his speech and said he plans to return to the island.
Former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told City & State that the state’s response to the natural disaster makes sense, considering the state’s historically close bond with the island and its past and present efforts to help it rebuild after Hurricane Maria. “Between the city and the state, they both have stepped up in different ways whenever there has been an emergency on the island,” Mark-Viverito said over the phone.
It’s possible that the damage caused by the powerful tremors will cost Puerto Rico hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and an $3.1 billion in losses, CNN reports. Though the island has only received a third of the $43 billion in federal aid that was allocated to it by Congress for hurricane recovery after Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Over the course of the past few days, many New York politicians have expressed their sympathies over the islands devastation, while others have called upon President Donald Trump to dispense the federal aid promised to the island two years ago.
President Trump:— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 8, 2020
It’s past time for @HUDgov to finally, finally disburse the $8.3 billion in disaster aid we allocated for Puerto Rico nearly two years ago.
With the looming threats of more earthquakes and aftershocks, our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need action NOW. pic.twitter.com/v6YhhuKPoB
Thinking of and praying for our friends and family in Puerto Rico—and sending strength to those across the country who may be worried about loved ones on the island. Watching this situation closely. https://t.co/xUwMhEJAPJ— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 7, 2020
.@realDonaldTrump's @HUDgov STILL has not released recovery funds that were appropriated by Congress for #PuertoRico following Hurricane Maria in 2017. Given today's earthquakes I led colleagues in writing @HUDgov demanding these overdue resources finally be made available! pic.twitter.com/gGnRlH86TW— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) January 7, 2020
Please keep your thoughts today w/ Puerto Rico.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2020
Earthquakes began to hit last night, tearing down schools & buildings. Island-wide blackouts reported.
My abuela relies on oxygen, and the power outage means she’s not breathing as she should - just one of many such stories. https://t.co/9Gf8WhOr7W
Even as we face serious threats abroad, we also can't neglect the health and safety of our fellow citizens here at home. My administration will build a team that meets the president's basic responsibility of keeping Americans secure – wherever they are. https://t.co/EQ3yr8pBlc— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) January 8, 2020
Still more earthquakes hitting Puerto Rico. Praying that everyone on the island stays safe. This is devastating news. https://t.co/fGQIKlr0m2— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) January 7, 2020
Our hearts go out to the residents of Puerto Rico, who are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, as they contend with this recent spate of earthquakes. #TemblorPR #PuertoRico #prayershttps://t.co/mm4WlNRFt0— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) January 7, 2020
“We still have billions of dollars that Congress assigned to Puerto Rico that are being held because of the whims of a president who is racist and who just refuses to release those funds,” said Mark-Viverito. “At this point that money's being held illegally. So now here we are facing another disaster.”
NEXT STORY: Takeaways from Cuomo’s 2020 State of the State