After Call With Puerto Rico’s Governor, Schumer Calls for Immediate Aid to Puerto Rico

Schumer Calls on Trump Administration To Send Security Personnel, First Responders, Fuel & Other Supplies Immediately

September 26, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today delivered remarks at a press conference regarding the urgent need for the Senate to pass an aid package for Puerto Rico. Below are his remarks:

A couple of hours ago, I spoke again with the Governor of Puerto Rico, as they and the US Virgin Islands are recovering from significant damage after Hurricane Maria. It is impossible, impossible, to overstate the seriousness of the situation on the island.  I’ve never seen any disaster take a toll on an area in my whole lifetime like it has on this one. 

I asked the Governor what was needed. His requests were clear. We are calling on the Administration to immediately give Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands the assistance it needs. We are calling on the President to have all hands on deck and give Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands the help they need and do it now.

First, Puerto Rico needs additional security presence of at least 1,000 to 1,500 people. They need U.S. Military disaster and humanitarian assistance to help maintain order and man the food and fuel.  Because the island is so disrupted, they don’t even have the personnel when they have food to get it to the people who need it and the people can’t get there half the time. 

Second, they need additional first responders and all available resources to help restore communications on the island. Many of the cell towers are down, communications to so many people is remote and gone. 

Third, they need at least 200 generators right now. They need additional fuel. They need fuel trucks. They don’t have any of that.  All the overlying power lines—including the main trunk power lines that were above ground—were destroyed. The only people who have power are those who got their power from underground lines. 

And about the personnel. They are now bivouacking, helicoptering in certain medicines that people depend on. They have to fly them in from far away and then somehow get them to people who need them.

Fourth, they need hundreds of power workers to get the power back up and running.

And fifth, and lastly, but very importantly, FEMA and the Coast Guard need to get the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, which is now also an airport, back up and running. They need a port. Our military and our Coast Guard know how to build temporary ports.  Because while planes can fly a certain amount of good and food and medicine in, ships can do it much more effectively and efficiently, larger numbers. They need this Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. So they need to get these things done and get them now. 

Mr. President, these are American citizens. They desperately need our help. We need all hands on deck in every relevant federal agency to help, and help now.