By Gina Martinez
After visiting Puerto Rico a week ago to asses the damage and what work needs to be done, Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) brought a displaced Puerto Rican resident currently living in Queens to last week’s State of the Union address.
Meng, who has called for additional funding to the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for hurricane relief, brought 33-year old Omar Miguel Nieves Delgado to President Trump’s address. Delgado was living in San Juan when Hurricane Maria struck and severely damaged his home. Delgado, a trained dancer, also lost his source of income after the island was devastated by the storm. He and his partner were forced to relocate Queens and live with a close friend.
Meng said it was an honor to bring Omar after everything he had gone through. She said it was important not to forget that fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from the damage caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
“I am proud to amplify Omar’s story of resilience, and I hope his attendance at the State of the Union will remind the President, and my congressional colleagues, of our obligation to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” she said. Delgado called it an “incredible honor” to be Congresswoman Meng’s guest for the State of the Union and being part of her effort to make sure that American citizens living in Puerto Rico are not forgotten.
He said there is still tremendous suffering in Puerto Rico that has led to no power, closed businesses, and the consequences of losing any opportunity for a bright future.
“For me, as an artist, I had the chance of leaving on a ship with a carry-on ten days after the hurricane hit in order to begin a new life in Queens,” he said. “But there many people who don’t have the same choice. The job is still not done and we feel as if we have been forgotten. The struggles of Puerto Rico must continue to be addressed and I thank leaders like Congresswoman Meng for working to make a difference.”
Meng spent two days in Puerto Rico last week assessing recovery efforts from damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
Meng received briefings on rebuilding, toured damaged and impacted facilities, spoke with local residents and met with officials from Puerto Rico and the U.S. government. Meng visited the island as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for funding all federal agencies, programs, and projects within the United States.
During her visit she met with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz at a relief supplies site where many of the donations were sent in by New Yorkers. Meng also toured Hospital Centro Medico, the largest public hospital on the island and received an update on the island’s health care needs from Dr. Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Health, as well as a tour of the San Agustín Elementary School where Meng spoke with students and teachers and heard about local education needs.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart