US Senators Demand Increased Federal Response In Puerto Rico

NBC Connecticut

Connecticut senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are demanding an increased federal response to deal with the crisis in Puerto Rico.

They said not enough is happening to help the island reeling from Hurricane Maria and the damage it left behind. They are calling this a crisis they have failed to address.

“Texas and Florida got 3 times the number of troops, got an immediate visit from the President. Got a congressional appropriation within 7 to 10 days. Why isn’t that happening for Puerto Rico?” Murphy said.

The U.S. senators said it’s time to raise their voice until Puerto Rico receives the resources it desperately needs.

“The administration’s response to this story so far has been really inadequate and even anemic,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal and Murphy are making their voices heard in an Albany Avenue neighborhood in Hartford, an area popular with Puerto Rican residents.

Blumenthal said about 50 military helicopters have been sent to the island, along with 5,000 US troops.

Both are disappointed that the Department of Defense told them just yesterday that they were coming up with a plan to deploy more assets to the island.

“There should be hundreds of helicopters on the island engaging in air drops and relief supply movement, not a few dozen,” Murphy said.

Those with family on the island say they haven’t been impressed with the federal response.

“Too slow. Way too slow. I mean, we’re what – day 11 or 12 and a lot of the aid has still not gotten there. Just yesterday the Jones act was temporarily waived which to me was a disgrace,” Sandy Cruz-Cerrano of Windsor said.

The Jones Act is a law that requires goods shipped between points in the US to be carried by vessels built and operated by Americans.

Both senators said they’re supportive of the temporary suspension, but say the problem is more about moving what’s on the island now throughout the US territory.

“The supplies that are now at the ports and airports cannot reach the interior and the cities where people need that food, water, medicine and other emergency supplies,” Blumenthal said.

The Trump administration is standing by its response with the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, arriving to Puerto Rico Today.

"I'm extremely proud of our people in the Federal Government and that is what I'm with. There's much, much more work to do. We'll never be satisfied that's why we are here, that's what we're saying. Until people are back in their homes, the schools are open and everybody's safe," Duke said.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to head to the island on Tuesday.