puertoricanagendachicagophotoCHICAGO – State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas and State Senator Omar Aquino joined leaders this morning to demand a swift and meaningful response from the federal government to Hurricane Fiona and to call attention to the structural inequities that leave Puerto Rico vulnerable to catastrophic destruction in the aftermath of disasters fueled by climate change.

“The health and safety of Puerto Ricans cannot continue to be ignored by those with power to assign significant resources,” said Senator Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Five years after our pleas were ignored following Hurricane Maria, we cannot standby idly for the federal government to mobilize and act with urgency while our community is in crisis. Instead, we take action today to provide immediate relief to households in Puerto Rico, and to publicly demand that the government take concrete steps to for long-term recovery on the island to rebuild a more resilient Puerto Rico using sustainable energy sources.

On September 18, the entire island of Puerto Rico lost power when Hurricane Fiona hit, bringing violent winds, heavy rain, catastrophic flooding and landslides to the island. In many areas, rainfall and flooding greatly exceeded that of Hurricane Maria, causing many to lose everything. LUMA Energy, the main source of power on Puerto Rico, stated it will take days to get the power back up to all residents but unfortunately they have not provided consistent service since the beginning of their contract. This is deeply troubling for members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, as many folks on the island will not have access to food, water, basic sanitation needs, and their ability to connect to family or work for as long as they are without power.

The foundational needs of Puerto Ricans, such as power, clean water, or supplies, have historically been overlooked, leading to unnecessarily long periods of recovery. Whether preparing for, responding to, or disbursing funds to rebuild after a hurricane, the federal government has historically prolonged its initiatives to provide relief that is desperately needed and, in many cases, resulted in the loss of human life and widespread health and safety concerns for residents.

Hurricane Fiona has come at the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which added to the existing physical and economic devastation on the island. Despite immediate aid from the Puerto Rican Agenda, thousands of people in Puerto Rico have not yet recovered from Maria, living in damaged homes or under blue tarps. Remembering the difficulties they faced five years ago, many folks in Puerto Rico are fearful not only of their safety during the storm, but for the recovery period that will likely be drawn out unless there is a more efficient and prioritized federal response. 

“Myself and so many in my community are devastated as we see the damage and injuries facing Puerto Ricans,” said Aquino (D-Chicago). “Today, we are calling on government leaders to take a firm stand in support of Puerto Ricans, and to work with local community leaders on the next steps towards recovery and infrastructure repair.”

Today we stand with The Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago in demanding an effective and prioritized response from the federal government that will not only provide immediate relief for residents, but also address the lingering structural, governmental obstacles that undermine Puerto Rico’s ability to recover and rebound from the adverse impact of climate change. For more information on their goals, click here.

Category: Press Releases

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