Murphy, Blumenthal To Tour Puerto Rico's Storm Damage

Hartford Courant

Frustrated by what they say is a woefully inadequate federal response, Sen. Chris Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal plan to tour storm damage in Puerto Rico on Tuesday and Wednesday.

They are scheduled to tour the hurricane-battered town of Las Piedras, meet with Gov. Ricardo Rossello and visit Hospital UPR to hear about the obstacles it faces as the storm relief efforts go on.

“I find astonishing and unprecedented the abject failure of our nation to provide basic relief and rebuilding in Puerto Rico,” Blumenthal said Monday. “Think of how Connecticut would react this long after a hurricane if almost half of its electricity was still out, drinkable water was widely unavailable, medical facilities were still running on generators and some roads were still impassable.”

Hurricane Maria crippled the island three months ago. Critics say the federal government’s response has been slow and weak; President Trump’s administration has said federal agencies have been “fully engaged” in the recovery.

“It's been 100 days since Maria made landfall, and huge swaths of the island don't have power — a situation that would be unfathomable on the mainland. We have a lot more work to do,” Murphy said.

“We are building a compelling, fact-based case for expanded disaster relief — evidence of the need for both an immediate supplemental disaster relief package and the major rebuilding plan I have introduced with Sen. Sanders,” Blumenthal said. “We cannot allow this administration to abandon fellow Americans and declare mission accomplished while half of Puerto Rico remains in the dark, clean drinking water is unavailable and thousands of people are living in temporary shelters.”

The tour will also stop at a Johnson & Johnson manufacturing plant in Las Piedras to hear how business is being hurt by the pace of the recovery.