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New York boosts response to quake-stricken Puerto Rico

Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by City Council members and 24 city agency workers who were heading to Puerto Rico to help after the earthquake. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The city will be sending a total of 28 city experts from a variety of agencies to assist in disaster recovery of Puerto Rico following multiple, strong earthquakes last week.

Tuesday’s announcement as Governor Andrew Cuomo flew down the the beleaguered island to see what assistance the state can provide. Both he and Mayor Bill de Blasio have blasted President Donald Trump for holding up $18 billion worth of aide that was supposed to go to them for recovery after the 2017 Hurricane Maria that killed numerous people and wrecked the island infrastructure.

Four city officials are already on the ground in Puerto Rico, and on Tuesday, de Blasio met the crew of 24 others heading to the island during a meeting at the Office Of Emergency Management in Cadman Plaza. Joining the mayor was a contingent of City Council members of Puerto Rican descent.

“There are not enough building inspectors, engineers, health care workers to help the island so we are doing our part to help our neighbors,” de Blasio said. “These people will help distribute aide and assist in a number of ways including mental health efforts as this has had a devastating effect on people – a sense of vulnerability and anxiety.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio greets the workers from various agencies heading to Puerto Rico to help. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

He said the City Council has been very supportive and they were equally supportive when the city sent assistance and during the massive hurricane in 2017. But he put Trump on notice about the dire need for financial aid in Puerto Rico.

“Don’t throw them paper towels. They need the life line that Congress had allocated. Release the billions of dollars and reach out your hand to help them,” de Blasio said.

Much praise went to the workers heading to Puerto Rico to help the population rebuild damaged homes and infrastructure.

Haddie Lizasuain from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response said she was happy to help.

“I did logistics, I worked at warehouse, I drove a lot of the teams around, I did wellness checks, I did work in warehouse with large pallets of food. It’s what we do,” Lizasuain said.

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera of upper Manhattan also offered her support for the recovery mission.

“The mayor is listening to the people of New York City,” Rivera said. “He knows the city has the resources and expertise they need so desperately on the island. It means the world to me that we are allies in terms of disaster recovery and I am thrilled that we are working as a city to stay united to help the people of Puerto Rico, they need our talents and resources.”

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera of upper Manhattan, thanks workers for going to Puerto Rico to help after the earthquake. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Councilman Rafael Salamanca of the Bronx further praised the mayor for showing his support for Puerto Ricans.

“It means hope,” Salamanca said. “Last week we spoke to mayor and he asked what do we need. Well, we need prayers, and people to help us and help the towns that have schools falling apart, bridges crumbling. A week later, and we are getting help that we need.”

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