Bay Ridge

Donovan inspects damage in Puerto Rico as part of congressional delegation

House mission reviews Hurricane Maria response

October 23, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Reps. Dan Donovan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) and other members of the delegation receive a briefing from Col. Rachel Smith (right) and personnel from the Combat Support Hospital in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Donovan’s office

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, who represents a district hit hard by Superstorm Sandy five years ago, traveled to Puerto Rico on Saturday as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation on a fact-finding mission to the hurricane-ravaged island.

Donovan (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) and the other members of the delegation were there to review the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Maria, according to a spokesperson for the lawmaker.

The delegation arrived in Puerto Rico via a military aircraft and received briefings from military leaders, as well as representatives from the U.S. the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all of whom offered the latest information on how the recovery effort is going. 

“The response to Hurricane Maria has been enormously challenging and complex. Puerto Rico was in need of infrastructure improvements before the storm, and a direct hit from a major hurricane destroyed or severely damaged critical services,” Donovan said in a statement issued by his office. 

Donovan said that because parts of his congressional district, particularly Staten Island, sustained heavy damage when Superstorm Sandy hit New York City in 2012, he was eager to see the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. 

The federal agencies now on the ground in Puerto Rico are undertaking one of the largest recovery efforts in history, according to Donovan, who said that projections show that the housing needs in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria will be three times the need in Houston, a city that was hit by Hurricane Harvey.

More than 15,000 federal and military personnel are currently on the ground in Puerto Rico, Donovan said.

Puerto Ricans will need a great deal of assistance, according to Donovan, who said that more than 640,000 people on the island have registered with FEMA.

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Maria was a Category 4 hurricane when it slammed into Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. The storm killed dozens and left a great deal of damage in its wake.

Meanwhile, elected officials and community activists in several Brooklyn neighborhoods have organized fundraising efforts and food drives to help the hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

Councilmember David G. Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst) said he has raised more than $75,000 worth of donations as part of a joint effort he is undertaking with the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“I’m extremely humbled by this outpouring of support for hurricane victims. It’s clear that my neighbors in Borough Park and Midwood care deeply when their fellow Americans are suffering, and they’ll do whatever they can to help,” Greenfield said in a statement.

Greenfield set up a donation center in his district office on 16th Avenue in Borough Park and worked with Masbia Soup Kitchen Network Executive Director Alexander Rapaport to synchronize their relief efforts. 

“I was very happy to find a partner in Councilman Greenfield who felt that what we as a community need to do something,” Rapaport said. 

Another lawmaker, Councilmember Mathieu Eugene (D-Crown Heights-East Flatbush-Kensington), is working with local schools and hospitals to collect emergency supplies for victims hit by the storm.

Eugene’s district office at 900 Rogers Ave. is a drop-off site for donations. The office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Residents are asked to donate any one of the following items: diapers, baby food, first aid supplies, feminine hygiene products, flashlights, batteries, toothbrushes and soap. 

Eugene is organizing the relief effort with local schools and hospitals, including Maimonides Medical Center, Kings County Medical Center and the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.

 

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