– U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, today led 16 of his Senate colleagues in introducing a bicameral resolution marking the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.-07) introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives.
Hurricane Maria is the second deadliest storm in United States history, with the official death toll standing at 2,975 victims, while some academic experts estimate the toll to be as high as 4,645. It is also the third most costly tropical cyclone in our country’s history, with damages estimated to have cost more than $98 billion. This storm resulted in the complete collapse of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and triggered physical and mental health, migration, housing and infrastructure crises in the years since the storm.
“Hurricane Maria was one of the most devastating weather phenomena to impact the United States, resulting in a catastrophic loss of life and long-lasting damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ infrastructure,” said Sen. Menendez. “The impact of this unprecedented natural tragedy was further exacerbated by the human-made tragedy of Trump’s administration heartless response. This resolution recognizes what millions of American citizens went through four years ago, and what many continue to endure, and reaffirms the federal government’s responsibility to support our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they continue working to restore the islands to their full potential.”
“Four years ago, the lives of Puerto Ricans and those with ties to the island changed forever,”said Rep. Velázquez. “More than three thousand perished not only because of a natural disaster but also as a direct result of political mismanagement by the Trump administration. This resolution is about honoring those lost, but also looking forward and reaffirming the commitment of the federal government to do right by the people of Puerto Rico. From parity in federal benefits to ensuring recovery funds are reaching those in need, there still is much more work to be done.”
Sen. Menendez is a long-time supporter of the people of Puerto Rico, and he has been an ardent advocate for ensuring the federal government fully supports Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in their continued recovery efforts. Following the devastation by Hurricane Maria, Sen. Menendez led his colleagues in holding the Trump Administration accountable for its botched and inhumane response to Hurricane Maria. The senator led efforts to extend a foreclosure moratorium for FHA insured mortgages in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, which would have put struggling families at risk of homelessness, and held FEMA accountable for cutting off federal assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Puerto Rico.
In 2019, Sen. Menendez and his colleagues also called on the inspector general to review FEMA’s faltering efforts to rebuild Vieques’ health care facility divested by Hurricane Maria, and this year reintroduced legislation to ensure Vieques receives the federal assistance needed to help it rebuild. Just this year, Sen. Menendez and Congresswoman Velázquez introduced the Vieques Recovery and Redevelopment Act, which in part would support the people of Vieques in recovering from the damages of Hurricane Maria.
The Senate resolution is also cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). The House resolution is cosponsored by Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.-13), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.-10), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.-15), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.-14), Darren Soto (D-Fla.-09), Albio Sires (D-N.J.-08), and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.-03).
Click HERE for a copy of the Senate resolution.