By Gina Martinez
New York elected officials are announcing their efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
On Tuesday Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a partnership with UNICEF USA and UPS to deliver and distribute donated medical supplies to Puerto Rican hospitals and clinics.
Cuomo also said that at the request of Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, he is sending a team of more than 100 medical personnel to Puerto Rico. UPS has delivered more than 100,000 water bottles that were donated by New Yorkers from across the state and UNICEF USA will be delivering emergency supply kits that will provide 60,000 people with basic hygiene supplies, including water purification tablets, water buckets, soap, toothpaste, detergent, sanitary pads and more, Cuomo said.
He said the new partnership will ensure the people of Puerto Rico will have access to adequate medical care as they work to recover and rebuild.
“New York has witnessed firsthand the devastation that Mother Nature is capable of leaving behind and in the wake of Hurricane Maria, we continue to offer assistance and supplies to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” he said.
On Wednesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and 144 elected officials, including state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) sent a letter imploring the Trump administration and the federal government to do more to aid the millions of Americans suffering from the extensive damage unleashed by Maria.
In the letter legislators urged President Trump to extend the 10-day suspension period for the Jones Act to at least one year. The lawmakers said the ten day suspension of the Jones Act by the administration is not a long enough time to be able to get much needed life-saving supplies to the people in Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands.
“Nearly the entirety of these islands is without power, hospitals are closed or unable to fully care for patients, the telecommunications system is devastated, and millions of U.S. citizens are living without access to food and water,” the letter said. “The people of Puerto Rico and the USVI cannot wait one more day for relief.”
The elected officials said it is “unthinkable” to ask Puerto Rico to provide the required local match for FEMA funding after 180 days, as the Administration has proposed. and that doing so will only divert resources away from the recovery where they are most needed.
“We must do everything humanly possible to reach every corner of Puerto Rico and the USVI with food and supplies, as we also grapple with the desperately needed restoration of power to the island,” the letter continued. “The lives of 3.5 million U.S. citizens are hanging in the balance.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart