City Council members Rory Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) and Daneek I. Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) and Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, Jackson Heights, Woodside, East Elmhurst) joined forces with other elected officials on the steps of City Hall today to call upon members of Congress to launch an independent investigation into the handling of the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Last September Category 4 Hurricane Maria devastated the residents of the island causing billions of dollars in damage and forcing thousands to leave their homes. According to the most reports, over 3,000 people have died as a result of the storm.
“Hurricane Maria brought devastation and destruction to Puerto Rico, and sadly the Trump administration has done little to help our fellow Americans in their time of great need. We need an independent commission to investigate the Trump administration’s callous and pathetic response to this disaster, and provide detailed findings to the public,” said Lancman.
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump went as far as to call the U.S.’s recovery response to the storm, a “great success,” an allegation the City Council denies in a recent letter to the White House.
The council believes there is a clear discrepancy in how resources were allocated to handle two similar storms that happened within a month of each other, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Maria, respectively.
“The president has shut his eyes and covered his ears to the blatant reality and that his administration failed to help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. The people of Puerto Rico are entitled to a full investigation into the federal government’s response, as well as an acknowledgement that this was one of the deadliest storms the island ever faced, ” said Constantinides.
In the same time frame of a little less than a month after the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had distributed 5.1 million meals to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, while only giving out 1.6 million to those affected by Maria, according to the Council.
Additionally, similar differences can be seen in the distribution of monetary relief provided to the victims after the two storms: 39% of applicants were granted relief in the immediate aftermath of Harvey, compared to 28% of those after Maria.
There are over 4,000 Puerto Ricans that came to New York City after Hurricane Maria, of which over 300 families are living in shelters scattered throughout the five boroughs.
“The White House is waging an absurd and deeply offensive campaign to absolve itself of its failure to respond to the devastation left in Hurricane Maria’s wake. There are now multiple estimates indicating no fewer than 3,000 Americans died in Puerto Rico. Congress can neither ignore these findings nor shirk its responsibility to hold this administration accountable for it’s ineptitude,” said Miller, the co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.