Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón Urges Support for Puerto Rico

Jennifer Gonzalez Colon

On Tuesday, the Resident Commissioner met with the Vice President to get help for Puerto Rico.  The Vice President met with the Resident Commissioner and Senator Marco Rubio to discuss Puerto Rico recovery, including the additional aid that President Donald Trump made available on Tuesday.

To raise understanding of the humanitarian crisis that Puerto Rico is suffering, the Resident Commissioner made some strong remarks in the House floor. During her remarks she stated that: “This hurricane has been a disaster of unprecedented proportions. The images on TV are dramatic but don’t begin to tell the magnitude of this catastrophe and the human suffering that you can only truly experience by being on the ground.”

She went further to make the following comparison with the distinction of Puerto Rico’s location: “In every way”, she added, “Maria is on the same level of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, but with one major difference: Puerto Rico is an island, which makes it almost impossible to get aid and disaster relief resources in, as they can only come by sea or air. The people are basically stuck there with no place to go.”

Puerto Rico’s electric grid, which had already suffered severe damages to its infrastructure, is completely down.

“Roads and bridges have been washed away, leaving many communities without communication. A crucial dam has burst, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Hospitals are crippled and operating on power generators, but the logistics of transporting the diesel needed to run them is extremely difficult. “

Humanitarian Crisis

González-Colón described a humanitarian crisis: “Hospitals are crippled and operating on power generators, but the logistics of transporting the diesel needed to run them is extremely difficult. Thousands of homes, buildings, and businesses have been destroyed. Water and food are in short supply. People are waiting in line for up to 6 hours just to purchase $20 worth of gasoline. Commercial flights to and from the island are almost nonexistent, with thousands of people on airline wait-lists just to leave. Most banks cannot operate, and people don’t have easy access to cash, which they need desperately because credit cards are not being used on the island because we don’t have power.”

The Island’s main economic industries have been heavily affected, the Resident Commissioner stated: “Maria flattened 80 percent of the island’s agriculture, and Puerto Rico’s tourism industry has been crushed. For most of the island’s residents, the hurricane can best be described as apocalyptic.”

Congress must act now

The Resident Commissioner urged Congress to approve an aid package for the island and reminded them of their obligation. “Congress must approve an aid package that is proportional with the level of devastation. We need tangible relief that addresses the island’s immediate needs. Without help, there will be a massive exodus to the U.S. mainland, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis will only get worse. The residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens. They are not different from every person sitting in this Chamber. But unlike everyone else, Congress has 100 percent control over the land where we live.”

In closing, Miss González-Colón stated the following: “This is a job for the Federal Government, particularly this Congress, to authorize and appropriate the money needed to rebuild the island. This is a dire time for the island, and, therefore, our Nation. The U.S. has an abiding national interest in the recovery and prosperity of Puerto Rico and its 3.4 million U.S. citizens who are facing very tough economic times, even before this latest blow. I hope this House can keep us in your prayers, but also to approve the package that is going to be needed in October, and I know we will respond. That was the claim that President Trump made today, and the Vice President.”

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