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Governor Roselló Emphasizes the Need to Transform Puerto Rico

In an appearance on Morning Joe yesterday morning, Governor Ricardo Roselló reported that the number of people who have regained electricity on the island has increased to roughly 12%. “We need to transform Puerto Rico”, Roselló stated about the infrastructure of the electrical grid destroyed by Hurricane Maria; “this destruction gives us now a platform to not just rebuild, but to transform Puerto Rico.”

The Governor further reported that about 57% of residents have drinkable water, and that his administration is focused on a region of Puerto Rico in which only 23% of the population has water.

A critical concern in Puerto Rico is the shortage of generators and power for hospitals to be able to serve the needs of the people. Currently, about 60 hospitals are powered by generators, and 10 hospitals are powered by direct generation. “This is a fragile system right now”, Roselló added, continuing to emphasize that “we are going to need resources in the long run to make sure we can reestablish normalcy in our healthcare system.”

The effort led by the Roselló right now is to petition Congress for immediate relief, estimated at $4.6 billion, to address the liquidity needs. “Later on, have a recovery package that is consistent with the damage in Puerto Rico.” “We need a lot of work”, Roselló said, “Don’t just put Puerto Rico back together again, we rebuild it, transform it better than before.”

Asked about the continuing debt crisis in Puerto Rico and what should be done, the Governor did not provide any details. “Right now we are focusing on the immediate liquidity needs,” the Governor said. “There are a lot of comments and opinion, but we in Puerto Rico are in a legal process called Title III, restructuring process, I can’t comment on what should be done.”

Later in the morning, in an interview on CNN New Day, Governor Roselló was asked about the need in Puerto Rico. “Well, certainly, a lot of the things are being delivered to the people of Puerto Rico right now”, Roselló stated, “We’ve increased capabilities.”

After some complaints that resources were not getting to people in some places, the Governor ordered an investigation into those instances. “If there is a place a locality that is not delivering food to the people of Puerto Rico that need it,” Roselló stated, “there’s going to be some hell to pay.”

Addressing the statement made about the mayor of San Juan being “political noise”, Governor Roselló stated: “My only work as governor of Puerto Rico is getting results to the people of Puerto Rico, so I don’t get involved in the fodder.”

“What I do focus on is results and I’ve been willing to come to have a conversation with anybody,” Roselló added, “I’ve been in communication, of course, with FEMA. We’ve been working together. I’ve also been in communication with the mayor. So from my vantage point, I have the responsibility to make sure that results get to the people of Puerto Rico not only in the immediate term but also in the mid- and long-term.”

Governor Roselló restated the importance of an immediate relief package to Puerto Rico, estimated at $4.6 billion of immediate relief. “So our petition right now is that this gets moved forward,” Roselló said, “as well as other petitions we made to the administration so that we can start establishing normalcy and start rebuilding Puerto Rico stronger than before.”

The federal government has increased the relief efforts on the island, as the Governor mentioned during the interview. A medical center is going to be established in Humacao, southeast part of the island, and it will end in Aguadilla, northwest part of the island. These are efforts to
“supplement what is a really fragile health care system right now in Puerto Rico”, Roselló stated.

Efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers and private sector are beginning to rebuild and make stronger the electrical grid in Puerto Rico. “And not just remaking an energy grid not just putting it back as it was”, Roselló added, “but actually taking the opportunity to make it better.”

“Let’s make it stronger, let’s make it better, let’s leapfrog into the 21st century. And that’s one of the efforts that we’re making — one of the strong pushes that we’re making right now”, Roselló concluded.


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