Governor Kathy Hochul updated her constituents on the state’s efforts to aid Puerto Rico during the devastation the island has and will continue to face due to Hurricane Fiona.
The hurricane, which has now made landfall in the Dominican Republic, has devastated Puerto Rico which was still rebuilding from the infrastructural damage caused in 2017 by Hurricane Maria. Massive flooding has been predicted, with up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain possible in eastern and southern Puerto Rico.
“We want to make sure that people know we are being very responsive,” said Hochul during a press conference Sept. 19. “We have a long history, a long connection with the people of Puerto Rico and I am very proud to be the governor of a state with one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in our nation. When you think of the people who came here in search of the American dream like many of our forefathers and foremothers, they have really created the vibrant city that we have here today. That’s why we feel that when they are in need, we have to be able to reach a hand out and offer assistance in any way possible.”
Governor Hochul announced that New York State had been asked by Puerto Rico to send Spanish-speaking police officers to the island, and that over 100 troopers from the New York State police department would be deployed to help with law enforcement. Additionally, drones to survey damage will be sent.
“With expected flooding, mudslides and blackouts, conditions are extremely dangerous and I urge everyone to remain safe and listen to direction from local authorities,” said Governor Hochul on Sunday. “New York will always stand with and support Puerto Rico.”
The Governor was joined by several government officials including Commissioner for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Jackie Bray.
Commissioner Bray clarified that it was “very normal” for states and territories to ask others for assistance, but that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had also been deployed to Puerto Rico to offer assistance.
“FEMA is on the ground now, they have been on the ground for several days and they will stay on the ground and coordinate the response,” Commissioner Bray said. “What Puerto Rico needs, as we know so far, is 100 (troopers) for two weeks and then a different 100 for two weeks. We are working hand-in-glove with the New Jersey state police who will also be sending troopers down, and if we are unable to fulfill continued requests, we will absolutely work with local police departments including the NYPD.”
United States President Joe Biden authorized FEMA on Sept 18 to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to support the Government of Puerto Rico and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to save lives, protect property and public health and safety.
“As Puerto Rico faces the effects of Hurricane Fiona, we have received approval of the Federal Emergency Declaration by President Biden, which activates FEMA to work with our administration to effectively respond to damages caused by the storm,” said Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi on Sunday. “I thank the Biden-Harris Administration and FEMA for this support now and always. We will continue to collaborate with all federal agencies to assist our people. I reiterate our call to all citizens to remain at home protecting their lives until the weather improves.”