NY Governor Visits Puerto Rico, Pledges Power, Water Aid

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -
Cuomo Puerto Rico
Gov. Cuomo announces new hurricane-recovery efforts for Puerto Rico in September. (AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that his state will help restore power in Puerto Rico and also improve access to clean water as the U.S. territory struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria.

During a one-day visit to the island, Gov. Cuomo pledged $1 million through the Empire State Clean Water Fund to buy water filtration systems and said he would deploy a tactical team in November that specializes in the supervision of transmission and distribution system recovery.

It is the second time that the New York Democrat has visited Puerto Rico since the storm, and he criticized the federal response.

“To be here five weeks later and people still don’t have power, people still don’t have water, the results speak for themselves,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s inadequate. It’s a life-and-death situation.”

“There’s been a different standard that has subliminally been imposed,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It would not be acceptable if any of the 50 states went through this … It would be immediate outrage.”

Taking aim at comments by President Donald Trump, Gov. Cuomo said rebuilding Puerto Rico will take years and billions of dollars of federal funding. Two weeks ago, Pres. Trump tweeted: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

The governor traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico last month to survey hurricane damage.

He noted the approaching fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

“We rebuilt a New York that is better and stronger than it was before Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “That should be the attitude in Puerto Rico.”

New York already has sent millions of bottles of water, baby wipes, diapers and other goods to Puerto Rico, and it has deployed hundreds of National Guard military police, engineers and soldiers and also volunteer medical staff.