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Engel Statement on Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands One Year After Hurricane Maria

Engel Statement on Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands One Year After Hurricane Maria

Congressman Eliot L. Engel issued the following statement:

“One year ago, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving nearly three thousand dead. Today, our fellow citizens on the islands are still reeling from the storm and its aftermath, struggling to recover due in no small part to the ineptitude of this Administration.

“Rather than focus on the recovery effort, the President spent most of the past year ignoring the plight of his Caribbean constituents, then called into question the official government death count after it exposed just how inadequate his team was in responding. His remarks were disgraceful and deserve our condemnation, which my colleagues and I offered to him directly in writing. The President’s callous words also called for a legislative response, in the form of Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s COUNT Victims Act, a bill I cosponsor, which will ensure no future disaster is left with uncertainty regarding the toll it took.

“Moving forward, we must also keep in mind the role climate change will play in future storms. Our planet is getting hotter, and more heat means more energy powering massive storm systems. One of the smartest, most effective ways we could help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is to take real, bold steps to combat climate change, something the GOP has refused to do for years. In addition, it is critical that we hold FEMA accountable when dealing with natural disasters, another responsibility Republicans seem to have abdicated.

“We’ve learned many lessons over the past year, not the least of which is what happens when those in power fail to act on behalf of our fellow citizens. The Republican run federal government failed the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their failure must never be allowed to happen again.”