WASHINGTON – U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., traveled to Puerto Rico as part of a bipartisan delegation of U.S. representatives and senators in order to review the status of recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria. The delegation surveyed the damage to Puerto Rico homes and infrastructure on the ground and from the air, and met with federal and local officials who are working to deliver immediate relief to the 3.4 million U.S. citizens living on the island.
Murphy and members of the congressional delegation meeting with emergency response personnel
at the Port of San Juan. To download a hi-res version of the photo, click here.
The visit began with a U.S. Marine Corps-led overflight of disaster areas along the northern coast and central mountain region, some of which have experienced difficulties obtaining emergency supplies due to the collapse of roads, bridges and other infrastructure as a result of the hurricane. The delegation then traveled to the Port of San Juan to discuss how to overcome the logistical challenges that are making it difficult for aid to reach certain parts of the island—including the mountainous central region and western region. The brief was provided by the commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Capt. Eric King; the San Juan Port Authority; and local officials.
“My heart breaks for all those affected by Hurricane Maria, especially the families who lost loved ones, and for those stranded without water or power still awaiting help. I witnessed the devastation first hand, and it really put into perspective the long road of recovery ahead for Puerto Rico and the urgent need for us to do more,” said Murphy. “While some progress has been made, much more work remains. I will continue leading bipartisan efforts in Congress to ensure the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico have every resource they need to stabilize the situation in the short term, to rebuild their beautiful island in the medium term, and to emerge stronger in the long term.”
The delegation also traveled to the FEMA Initial Operating Facility (IOF) in San Juan, where they met with Governor Ricardo Rossello, Army Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan—the three-star general in command of all military recovery efforts on the island—and officials from FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The group discussed Puerto Rico’s immediate and longer-term needs and how Congress can help meet them. Murphy said the urgent focus must be on providing food, water, electricity, housing, health care, and other resources to help keep families safe and secure. Following the meeting, the group toured the IOF and held a press conference to recap the day’s events.
Murphy previously spoke to Governor Rossello, via telephone, before Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. During the call, she expressed her deep concern for the safety of island residents and pledged her full support in Congress to help Puerto Rico recover and rebuild.
Other members of the congressional delegation included Senators Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tim Kaine, D-Va., as well as Reps. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, R-P.R.
Murphy is also leading a bipartisan effort in Congress to allocate emergency federal funding to help school districts and colleges in Florida and other states enroll students displaced by recent hurricanes, including students from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico who may relocate with their families to Florida as a result of Hurricane Maria. Her initiative will help schools and universities on the mainland cover the increased costs of educating new students from Puerto Rico without compromising the quality of education for existing students. To learn more, click here.