Puerto Rico is still in need of aid as officials there work to rebuild after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September, and New York is here to help.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched the “New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative” to extend a hand to the United States territory.
The effort will involve a Tactical Assessment Team of experts from the state as well as partners from labor, academic, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
That team will travel to Puerto Rico and evaluate the island’s reconstruction needs, developing a “rebuilding roadmap” from those findings.
In June, about 500 SUNY and CUNY students, as well as construction workers, will be deployed to Puerto Rico. That mission will also be informed by the Assessment Team’s findings as those students and builders work to “help Puerto Rico build back better,” the governor’s office said.
"There are too many residents in Puerto Rico living in temporary homes that will not withstand this year's fast-approaching hurricane season," Cuomo said in a statement. "As our federal government continues to flounder, New York is taking action to deliver critical housing assistance, resources, and the workforce needed to accelerate rebuilding efforts and construct more resilient homes for residents throughout Puerto Rico."
Through this initiative, those college students will clean, restore and reconstruct homes while also completing an applied learning curriculum and earning college credits while working on the island.
Since the storm, New York has deployed more than 1,000 personnel — including power restoration experts, national guard soldiers, nurses and more — and distributed 4,400 pallets of supplies to Puerto Rico, according to the governor’s office.
“On behalf of the people of Puerto Rico, thank you very much to Governor Cuomo, who has supported us since the day after Hurricane Maria hit the Island,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said in a statement. “Once again and more than seven months after the catastrophe, he reaffirms his commitment to the Puerto Rican people with this assistance program."