On October 24, 2017, Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Nelson (D-FL), sent a letter to Elaine Chao, Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Brock Long, Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The letter urges FEMA and DOT to “promptly assist and identify interim solutions for Puerto Rico in repairing its damaged roads and bridges.” The senators give their firsthand impressions of the devastation Hurricane Maria caused to the island’s infrastructure. Rural communities in the mountainous interior were hit especially hard, the letter notes, and “effectively cutting them off form the rest of the island.”
The letter mentions reports about Charco Abajo in Utuado that “resorted to replacing bridges with makeshift pulley systems to ferry supplies across the Vivi River.” The two Senators lay out the following questions:
- What are your agencies’ plans to ensure the delivery of aid to Puerto Rico’s isolated, rural communities in light of this infrastructure damage?
- What interim solutions can be enacted to quickly restore access to these communities?
- What are the agencies’ plans to help rebuild and repair roads and bridges on the island?
In closing, the letter states that “It is critical that FEMA and DOT work together to quickly reconnect isolated communities to the rest of the island, and begin the larger task of helping Puerto Rico rebuild its transportation infrastructure.”