Politicians released statements Thursday urging support for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Caribbean countries following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria.
Gov. Rick Scott said he called the governors of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands offering support and anything they need.
“Our hearts go out to them and they are in our prayers,” said the governor at a stop Thursday to thank Seminole County first responders for their service during Hurricane Irma.
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto also contacted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s office and offered to lend federal recovery resources.
“It is heartbreaking seeing the damage Hurricane Maria caused our neighbors, including widespread flooding, destruction of infrastructure and wiping out electricity in all of Puerto Rico,” said Soto, whose father was born in Puerto Rico.
During a FEMA visit in Jacksonville Wednesday, Soto spoke with Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen about gathering support for Puerto Rico in the FEMA supplemental package. Soto said he will write a letter to the United States Department of Homeland Security requesting additional support to ensure the island has sufficient funding to handle the crisis.
“In the short-term, we need to make sure that FEMA is prepared to address the Island’s immediate needs, such as supplying food, water, and medical supplies to all citizens,” he said in a statement released Thursday. “As we reflect on how to better prepare for future natural disasters, we need to improve both Florida’s and Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure by moving more power lines underground and replacing wooden poles with cement pylons where appropriate. Let’s make strategic, sustainable investments so we can be ready for the next storm.”
The congressman plans to visit Puerto Rico in the next few weeks to assess the damage and recovery efforts on the island.
“The devastation in Puerto Rico and its Caribbean neighbors is heart wrenching and catastrophic,” said State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is working with community organizations to mobilize funds and supplies to those most in need in Puerto Rico. “What is important for Floridians to know is that now is the time to step up and help our fellow Americans on the island.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham wrote to Florida’s two senators and twenty-seven congressional representatives asking them to support relief and recovery funding for fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help the islands rebuild after hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“Just as we helped our neighbors in Florida, we must now stand with our neighbors in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, who just days after enduring Hurricane Irma, have been hit by Hurricane Maria, another devastating storm,” Graham wrote in her statement.