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National Guard and New York Gov. Cuomo Headed to Puerto Rico

Cuomo authorized the deployment of 115 National Guard troops over 90 days to help with everything from cleanup to infrastructure rebuilding in a land still reeling from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

by Denis Slattery and Leonard Greene, New York Daily News / January 14, 2019
Jose Luis Aponte Cruz, 52, wipes away a tear as he walks through the ruins of his beachside food kiosk "El Amarillo" in the Punta Santiago community of Humacao, Puerto Rico on Aug. 23, 2018. Aponte Cruz lost his business last year in Hurricane Maria. TNS

(TNS) — Gov. Cuomo was off to Puerto Rico Tuesday with a deployment of National Guard troops to help the ravaged island through its latest natural disaster — a series of massive earthquakes that rattled the U.S. territory.

Cuomo authorized the deployment of 115 National Guard troops over 90 days to help with everything from cleanup to infrastructure rebuilding in a land still reeling from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Cuomo led a delegation that included Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Budget Director Robert Mujica, Terry Bischoff from the Foundation for a Better Puerto Rico and members of the Red Cross.

“It wasn't one earthquake,” Cuomo said. “It has been an ongoing series for a number of days. It has not affected the entire island, but it has affected a significant portion of it, and the purpose of our visit is to assess the damage, find out the best way we can help.”

Cuomo said New Yorkers are stepping in where the federal government has not. Last week, President Trump placed Puerto Rico under a state of emergency.

“Hurricane Maria was devastating. The island still hasn't fully recovered and then they get hit with an earthquake and a second. I think this is insult to injury as far as the federal government is concerned. They didn't respond appropriately at Hurricane Maria. The President showed up and threw paper towels into the crowd and now we have an earthquake and continuing tremors and once again the federal government hasn't showed up the way they should.

“Luckily, New Yorkers have," Cuomo said. “Their response after Hurricane Maria was tremendous. Millions of dollars donated. Supplies from all across the state. And we will do the same thing here. We’ll make sure that Puerto Rico is not left on its own."

Cuomo and his colleagues didn’t travel empty-handed. The delegation brought 800 pillows and 500 emergency preparedness kits.

Quakes with tremors up to a 6.4 magnitude began rolling across the island on Dec. 28, forcing residents out of their homes and into streets and shelters. Nearly one million people were without power,

Major de Blasio said that the city would send 24 more city personnel to help the city of San Juan and its surrounding areas. The New York City response team will include building inspectors, engineers, emergency managers, and mental health professionals.

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