City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and 40 other council members are calling on President Donald Trump to order an independent investigation into his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico a year ago Thursday.
“The recovery assistance offered by the federal government to Puerto Rico has been woefully inadequate,” the council members wrote in a letter to the president.
The letter compares the federal responses to Maria and Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston and the southeast region of Texas weeks before Maria. The time it took to send helicopters, food, water and equipment, as well as approve relief applications and disaster work, was faster in Texas than in Puerto Rico, the letter says.
At least 82 people died as a result of Harvey, Texas officials said, according to The Washington Post. In Puerto Rico, nearly 3,000 people died as a result of Maria’s wrath, according to a report by public health experts at George Washington University.
Trump has disputed the death toll in Puerto Rico, claiming without evidence that Democrats came up with the number to make him look bad.
The council members were critical of Trump for underplaying “how devastating this hurricane was,” and compared it to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“This loss of life in Puerto Rico exceeds the 1,833 deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina and is equivalent to the death toll of 9/11,” they wrote. “In every way, it was one of the worst disasters to hit our country in recent memory.”
Johnson and other members will introduce a resolution at their stated meeting on Wednesday calling on Congress to pass a bill that would establish a national commission on the federal response to Puerto Rico. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the legislation in June.