Serrano Calls On Nation to Aid Puerto Rico

Credit: Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Credit: Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Earlier today, Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano conducted a telephone interview with the Bronx Chronicle. Calling the images and reports out of Puerto Rico “devastating,” Rep. Serrano has called on the nation to assist Puerto and the US Virgin Islands in what will be months, if not, years-long recovery efforts.

Asked about his efforts to date to assist the hurricane ravaged residents of Puerto Rico, Serrano said he was leading an effort to get the Department of Defense more involved in assisting the government of Puerto Rico in getting incoming relief supplies and aid to areas in need around the island. “I am asking the military to play a role in clearing up debris that would allow the ability to reach remote areas.”

This afternoon, Serrano joined Reps. Nydia Velazquez, Joe Crowley and Yvette Clarke at a news conference where they brought the Washington, DC press corps up-to-date on congressional efforts.

“The affected areas in Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida, and elsewhere deserve the same comprehensive response to that my hometown eventually received in the wake of Sandy,” said Serrano in an earlier statement released to the Bronx Chronicle.

Serrano also released a bipartisan letter sent to President Trump urging him to immediately create a task force “to plan, coordinate and support the reconstruction efforts that will be taking place in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria’s passage through Puerto Rico and other states and territories including Texas, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” The letter was signed by US Representatives Nydia M. Velazquez, Darren Soto, and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez.

“Due to the magnitude of destruction brought by Hurricane Maria, we believe that a long-term comprehensive and collaborative framework is necessary in order to rebuild Puerto Rico, its economy, its health care system and its infrastructure. Reconstruction efforts should address economic conditions and the island’s aged infrastructure, which includes public housing, roads, public transportation systems, and utilities. In addition, these efforts should develop a plan to make infrastructure resilient to withstand future natural disasters,” the Members wrote.

President Trump has declared Puerto Rico a disaster area and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is leading the recovery efforts to assist Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Congressman Serrano reiterated that “it is imperative that every resource be used to help rebuild and strengthen affected areas, avoid environmental disasters, and prevent humanitarian emergencies.” He asserts that “disaster response requires not just emergency help to save lives, but long-term assistance to repair, rebuild, and fortify vulnerable areas.”

Governor Cuomo went to Puerto Rico to provide emergency rellef supplies at the official request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Credit: Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Cuomo went to Puerto Rico to provide emergency rellef supplies at the official request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Credit: Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Serrano told the Bronx Chronicle, “We need to make sure that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are treated equally in the funding for these recovery efforts — they are part of the American family, and we must do justice by all of those affected, regardless of whether they reside in a state.”

Rep. Serrano commended Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló for his strong leadership, and pledge to work with local governments to help quickly repair the damage and those in need. He also praised Governor Cuomo’s leadership and swift response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

**This article has been updated to note the Bronx Chronicle’s telephone interview with Rep. Serrano**

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