With Hurricane Maria striking Puerto Rico this week, members of the Florida congressional delegation are urging the federal government to step up and offer assistance.
After the storm, which had winds as high as 140 miles per hour, the BBC reported that as many as 3.5 million Puerto Ricans will be without power for months to come.
On Wednesday, Florida’s two U.S. senators--Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio--sent letters to President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session, urging them to show the same level of determination in responding to Hurricane Maria’s impact as the federal government did to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“As you certainly understand, early declarations have proven vital to ensuring that federal agencies are prepared to swiftly and effectively respond to the requests of local officials tasked with protecting our fellow citizens during and after natural disasters,” the senators wrote Trump. “It is important that the federal government stands ready to assist in the difficult days after Hurricane Maria passes, when hope must be available to combat despair. Because of your foresight, our family, friends, and neighbors in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will emerge from yet another major hurricane this month ready to rebuild and recover. However, as even the best laid plans can be overwhelmed by natural forces, we urge your administration’s continued attention to this dangerous storm so that appropriate federal resources can quickly be made available as locally unmet needs arise.
“Once again, thank you for your leadership and for your attention to the needs of Americans in Florida, Texas, and the Caribbean who have been and continue to be directly impacted by this Atlantic hurricane season,” the senators added.
Nelson and Rubio also reached out to Sessions on Wednesday.
“We write to thank you for the department’s leadership and swift action in forming task forces to combat illegal activity related to Hurricane Irma in each of the three federal districts of Florida, as well as in Puerto Rico,” they wrote. “While Florida and Puerto Rico continue to face obstacles related to Hurricane Irma relief and recovery, Puerto Rico is simultaneously facing Hurricane Maria. Hurricane Maria made landfall early this morning as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. Extensive damage to infrastructure on the island is certain. As the National Center for Disaster Fraud continues its important work with the U.S. attorneys’ offices and other federal, state, and local agencies related to Hurricane Irma, we respectfully urge you to expand the scope of the task force in Puerto Rico to account for any illegal activity related to Hurricane Maria. Thank you for you continued support for the people of Florida and Puerto Rico and your attention to this matter.”
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., the first member of the Florida delegation of Puerto Rican ancestry, also turned his attention to Puerto Rico this week.
On Facebook, Soto showcased an article from the Miami Herald insisting Puerto Rico needed billions in federal aid after the hurricane.
“Praying for our beloved Puerto Rico as it faces Hurricane Maria. The federal government must help the island recover!” Soto insisted.
Soto was in Jacksonville with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and other congressional leaders on Wednesday, inspecting damage from Hurricane Irma.
“I stressed to them the need for a new FEMA package to cover remaining Irma damage for Florida and to assist Puerto Rico with Maria,” Soto noted after the event.