US Cities Demand Federal Help As They Brace For Influx Of 100,000s Of Puerto Ricans
29 September, 2017
As the disaster-relief effort enters its second week, air traffic is slowly resuming, which means hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will likely flee the devastated island to stay with friends and relatives in the continental US as they wait for FEMA to rebuild roads, repair power grids and and revive the island's communications infrastructure – a process that could take months, if not longer.
Mainland US cities with large Puerto Rican populations are warning that they will need federal help to cope with an anticipated influx of island residents fleeing the devastation visited on the US commonwealth by Hurricane Maria.
“If it’s as large-scale as we anticipated, it’s got to be a federal and state-co-ordinated response,” said Buddy Dyer, Orlando’s mayor. “It can’t be city by city.”
We are expecting a large influx of evacuees to the state,” said Teresa Jacobs, mayor of Orange County in Florida, which includes Orlando. “We will have a major evacuation population for an extended period of time — three months, six months.”“
Officials from the Orlando area said on Wednesday that co-ordination with the federal government was in the early stages.
“We are reaching out to federal authorities,” said Ms Jacobs. “We are planning to have a forum next Tuesday with federal authorities as well as state authorities just to get the conversation started about the co-ordination and the logistics of this effort.”
Crowley Maritime Corp., based in Jacksonville, Fla., but a major operator of cargo ships to Puerto Rico, had 4,100 containers with both relief supplies and commercial cargo waiting at San Juan’s port on Thursday. Another carrier, TOTE Maritime, said earlier this week it had more than 3,000 shipping containers stacked up at the port awaiting transport.
"I have to say that the administration has responded to our petitions. FEMA, Brock Long, has been on the phone virtually all the time with me, checking out how things are going," said Rossello, leader of the New Progressive Party.
“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story.”
“Where is the good news here?”