NEW YORK — It’s been more than seven months since Hurricane Maria damaged half a million homes and took dozens of lives on Puerto Rico, and Governor Andrew Cuomo said the people on the island still need our help.
Before his third trip to Puerto Rico, Cuomo spoke at JFK Airport and applauded New York’s quick and united response to the crisis — the state has a close bond with the island, but he slammed the feds for not stepping up to do more.
“I had done the federal response when I was HUD secretary, and I can tell you that the federal government in similar circumstances was more active, was more generous, provided more support,” he said.
New York is sending more utility experts to repair the power grid on the island.
Earlier this month, the island was again in darkness after a massive outage left more than a million people without power.
More than 40,000 people were already without power from the storm.
But officials said 80 percent of the island now has power again after this last outage.
The hurricane has also badly hurt their economy, all while Puerto Ricans are trying to rebuild.
That’s where phase two of recovery efforts comes in, Cuomo said.
“We came up with an innovative program where we're going to have 500 students from SUNY and CUNY who will volunteer, work on reconstruction of the island,” he said.
They will be accompanied by building professionals and work alongside local non-profits.
“The people of Puerto Rico are not immigrants, they are American citizens, and they have not been treated like American citizens. They have been treated like second-class citizens,” Cuomo argued.
While on the island, the governor will also with meet with Puerto Rico’s governor Rosselló. He is also touring a neighborhood where volunteers are repairing flooded homes.