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City workers to aid Puerto Rico recovery, de Blasio announces

The city's Puerto Rico relief efforts were discussed

The city's Puerto Rico relief efforts were discussed by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio outside the city's Emergency Management warehouse in Brooklyn on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. Photo Credit: Laura Figueroa

More than 50 city sanitation workers and building inspectors are headed to Puerto Rico to aid in the hurricane recovery effort, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

De Blasio, speaking at a news conference at the city’s Emergency Management warehouse in Brooklyn, said 22 workers from the housing and building departments are being sent to conduct safety inspections of buildings battered by back-to-back hurricanes in September.

The city also is dispatching 31 sanitation workers to assist with debris cleanup. The workers will join more than 100 city first responders already on the ground, according to de Blasio.

“New Yorkers understand, this is not a problem that’s going to be solved in a few weeks or a few months,” de Blasio said as he stood in front of pallets of donated goods that have been collected at firehouses citywide. “We have to be in Puerto Rico for the long haul."

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who recently visited the island, criticized the federal government’s storm response in Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump’s administration “has done an incredible disservice to the island," Mark-Viverito said.

“We need the support and we need the resources from the U.S. government,” Mark-Viverito said. “We need to continue to put the pressure on Trump, who obviously has a very limited attention span and does not want to focus on the severity of this catastrophe.”

More than 90 percent of the island, home to 3.4 million U.S. citizens, is without electricity and 46 percent of the island remains without access to running water, according to statistics released Thursday by the local government.

Trump toured parts the capital of San Juan on Tuesday and met with local officials there. He has continued to praise his administration’s response to the devastation on the island, despite criticism that the response was slow moving. On Tuesday he tweeted: “great progress being made.”

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