Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Jennifer Lopez and a who’s who of New York elected officials and celebrities announced a major statewide effort Sunday to send relief to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Cuomo, who just came back from a tour of the island, said major businesses, government agencies and nonprofits have pledged their support for the effort, which will provide much needed supplies, personnel and money for rebuilding efforts. He said the huge amount of generosity shown by New Yorkers so far has gone a long way, but it’s going to take many years — and billions of dollars — to restore any sense of normalcy to Puerto Rico.
“The message is simple, Puerto Rico needs help,” he said at a massive news conference at the Jacob Javits Center.
Hurricane Maria caused widespread flooding and completely shut down the island’s power grid. Ten Puerto Ricans were killed, and thousands have been displaced.
The largest part of the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico initiative will be drop-off locations for important donations such as batteries, diapers, perishable foods and bottled water that will be situated throughout the state. The sites, which are listed on ny.gov/puertorico, include the Javits Center, Roberto Clemente State Park and the Perry B. Duryea State Office Building in Hauppauge, and will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Mets also will be taking in donations during the week at Citi Field.
In addition to the goods, Cuomo said New York would lend some of its expertise and manpower to help with the rebuilding efforts. For example, Port Authority agents will assist with restoring San Juan International Airport and the state’s health care unions will send professionals and experts to assist hospitals.
“We went through 9/11, and we all remember how many people were there for us, and how many states showed up for us,” Cuomo noted.
The state’s private sector is also chipping in. JetBlue said it would provide $1 million as an in-kind contribution and will fly out the supplies on their planes. Several celebrities, such as Lopez, who is a co-chair of the initiative, Rosie Perez and Mets pitcher Seth Lugo, have pledged their support.
Lopez, who spoke in both Spanish and English and announced she was donating a million dollars to relief efforts, said she was moved by the show of support.
“Nobody said no. Anybody we called was right there asking what they can do,” she said.
Cuomo called on the federal government to provide swift aid as fast as possible, and took a dig at President Donald Trump.
“I humbly suggest that at this time, instead of arguing with football players … why don’t we put the politics aside and focus on helping Americans in desperate need,” he said to a standing ovation.