Governor Cuomo: "Mr. President, your administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico. The only way to truly appreciate the depth of the problem is to witness it for yourself, so I call on you to visit the American citizens struggling in Puerto Rico. If this were Florida or Texas or New York, would you have waited this long to return to an ongoing crisis?"
Governor Cuomo: "Mr. President, these are American citizens and they deserve more from you than paper towels."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an open letter to President Trump calling on him to visit Puerto Rico amid the ongoing crisis resulting from the federal government's failed response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Governor issued the letter on the second day of his visit to the island leading a New York delegation to support the New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative.
AUDIO of the Governor discussing the letter is available here.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear President Trump,
Having just concluded a fifth trip to Puerto Rico in support of New York's ongoing recovery efforts, I am writing to express my outrage at your administration's horrendous mistreatment of the people of Puerto Rico. More than 10 months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island, I saw firsthand how your administration's continued neglect of Puerto Ricans has prolonged the pain and the suffering on the island.
Mr. President, these are American citizens and they deserve more from you than paper towels.
Let me be very clear: this ongoing crisis was not solely an act of Mother Nature, but the consequence of your administration's lack of action before and after these storms. FEMA's own report shows that the agency was woefully unprepared for Hurricane Maria and incapable of providing the assistance Puerto Rico needed in the wake of the disaster.
Puerto Ricans continue to suffer because of FEMA's failures. During this latest mission, I saw people in Playita still boiling their water because they are not connected to a reliable clean water source more than 10 months later; I saw families in Guaynabo still relying on generators because they are still not connected to the grid; I saw empty and abandoned homes in Toa Baja, where nearly 10,000 homes were damaged, because people are still not comfortable returning to their communities.
As President, you owe the people of Puerto Rico an apology. And now that your administration has admitted that you were part of the problem—it's well past time for you to be part of the solution. Puerto Rico has put forward a plan calling for $94.4 billion in federal aid to rebuild stronger and more resiliently, but so far the federal government has provided only a fraction of that amount. I call on you to deliver the full funding that Puerto Rico needs to rebuild and prepare itself for future extreme weather.
New York, which is home to the largest population of Puerto Ricans outside the island, has always had a special bond with Puerto Rico, and we have stood with Puerto Rico from the beginning of this tragedy.
We have done and will continue to do as much as we can from a state level: we sent 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state; we deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including the National Guard, government workers, medical professionals, and hundreds of utility workers and power experts to help with power restoration and grid stabilization; and at this very moment, hundreds of SUNY and CUNY students and skilled organized labor volunteers from New York are in Puerto Rico rebuilding homes as part of our New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding initiative. These students and volunteers are showing the leadership, compassion and care that has been absent in Washington since the hurricanes struck.
What are you and your administration doing?
Mr. President, your administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico. The only way to truly appreciate the depth of the problem is to witness it for yourself, so I call on you to visit the American citizens struggling in Puerto Rico. If this were Florida or Texas or New York, would you have waited this long to return to an ongoing crisis?
On your trip, I would be more than willing to personally show you how New Yorkers on the ground are leading the way and setting an example of what it means to step up for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
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