Sens Menendez, Booker, Warren, Colleagues Call on President Trump to Prioritize Disaster Relief Efforts for Puerto Rican Islands of Vieques and Culebra

Sens Menendez, Booker, Warren, Colleagues Call on President Trump to Prioritize Disaster Relief Efforts for Puerto Rican Islands of Vieques and Culebra

Senators Urge White House Not to Neglect the Islands and to Carefully Monitor the Vieques Superfund Site

    

Washington, DC - United States Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today joined Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in calling on President Trump to step up disaster recovery efforts on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra after the islands were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) also joined the letter to President Trump.Citing in their letter the remoteness of the islands and reports that residents have been "without running water, power, gasoline or communications for more than a week," the senators wrote to President Trump to request that sufficient aid and relief personnel be sent to the islands as soon as possible. 


 "The residents of Vieques and Culebra are U.S. citizens, and no fellow citizen should be left ‘clamoring for help,'" wrote the senators.  "They need help now, and we urge that you provide them with sufficient aid and assistance without further delay."

The Senators also expressed concern about the superfund site on Vieques and the potential health risks posed by the heavy metals and toxic chemicals left on the island after decades of military exercises by the U.S. Navy.  "We share the concern of residents that the hazardous waste may further contaminate the island and water supplies, and ultimately threaten the health of local residents," the senators wrote.  "Additionally, the superfund site contains unexploded bombs and live ammunition that could be washed into the sea, posing long-term health and safety risks."

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Menendez and Booker have played a leading role in Congress to ensure the federal government provides the necessary help to the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Menendez traveled to Puerto Rico last week, where he saw firsthand the devastation in Puerto Rico, toured the island via helicopter, met with local residents, and was briefed directly by FEMA officials on the ground. The Senators have called on Republican leadership to allow Congress to do its part to help the 3.5 million American citizens on the islands recover and rebuild. Since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, Senator Menendez and Booker: 

  • Senator Menendez sent a letter to U.S. Airlines serving Puerto Rico requesting they take additional steps that ensure victims of Hurricane Maria are not stuck on the island due to unreasonable fees or exorbitant ticket prices to the mainland United States.

 Text of the letter available here (PDF)

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