60 National Guard Soldiers, 4 Black Hawk Helicopters and 100 Members of State Police Begin Deployment to Puerto Rico.
Albany, NY - September 28, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that additional personnel and the first shipment of supplies donated though the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort are now en route to Puerto Rico. 60 Soldiers and 4 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation Regiment of the New York National Guard have begun their deployment from Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Ronkonkoma to bolster aerial movement of relief supplies and personnel on the island. 100 members of the State Police have also been mobilized to assist with security operations and the first 50 will travel to Puerto Rico Friday morning on a flight donated by Delta Airlines.
Governor Cuomo has also approved the deployment of up to 120 members of the New York National Guard's 442nd Military Police Company and 107th Military Police Company. The soldiers are mobilizing to prepare for deployment from Camp Smith in Westchester County and will travel with 16 Humvees to provide security assistance to law enforcement in Puerto Rico. Up to 125 additional soldiers and equipment from the 827th Engineering Company have also been mobilized to prepare for deployment in the coming days to conduct debris clearance missions on the ground.
To further support operations on the ground, a crew of up to 30 personnel from the State Department of Transportation that includes CDL drivers, is also being mobilized to perform highway restoration work and operate a variety of equipment to assist with the operation. Priorities will be established on site, but may include roadway clearance, debris removal, highway repairs, other heavy construction work and the transportation of supplies. George Miranda, President, Teamsters Joint Council 16 & President of Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus, has also put out a call for 50 volunteer truck drivers to join the DOT workers and Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort.
Additionally, an initial shipment of New York State supplies and donated supplies, which includes food, water, personal hygiene items, first aid supplies and various other items, is en route to Puerto Rico on vehicles from the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and SUNY Maritime, as well as a flight donated by JetBlue.
To expedite the delivery and distribution of these items, Governor Cuomo is also submitting a formal request to waive the Jones Act which would ensure greater shipment access to Puerto Rico.
"After seeing firsthand the unimaginable devastation in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, I am proud that New Yorkers are stepping up to the plate to support our brothers and sisters in need," Governor Cuomo said. "Puerto Rico is part of the New York family, and these critical contributions from New Yorkers across the state are a testament to our unyielding commitment to help the island recover. Puerto Rico faces a long and difficult road to recovery, but New York will walk that road with them every step of the way."
The statewide donation drive is one key element of the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico. The effort has brought together a wide range of civic, business and industry partners to provide needed services, goods and funds to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild, and provide opportunities for New Yorkers to contribute to the relief efforts. As part of this effort, supply drop-off locations have been established in every region of the state.
To date, more than 60 pallets of supplies have been collected statewide that include items ranging from food and water, to personal hygiene items, to flashlights and batteries. This initial shipment to Puerto Rico consists of 22 pallets of donated goods from the drop-off locations at the Javits Center and Citi Field, as well as from the New York State stockpile at JFK Airport. It includes:
More than 22,000 half-liter bottles of water and 288 gallon containers of water
2,000 canned food items
1,500 packages of feminine products
17,000 packages of baby wipes
4,000 packages of baby diapers
1,100 containers of disinfectant wipes
Batteries, flashlights, first aid kits and personal hygiene items
The majority of the items are being transported to port in Key West, Florida on trucks supplied by the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Once in Key West, the supplies will be transferred to the Empire State VI, a ship owned by SUNY Maritime, which will leave for Puerto Rico tomorrow. Once moored in Puerto Rico, the vessel will support recovery efforts by providing power, housing, food and water to first responders, thereby freeing up local hotel resources for displaced individuals. The remaining items are being shipped to Puerto Rico on a direct flight donated by JetBlue.
To expedite the delivery of donations and supplies, Governor Cuomo is also submitting a formal request to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act. The Jones Act requires that goods shipped between American ports to be carried out exclusively by ships built primarily in the United States, and to have U.S. citizens as its owners and crews. Most recently, the federal government waived the act following hurricanes Harvey and Irma to allow cheaper and more readily-available foreign vessels to supply goods to devastated areas. It has not issued a similar waiver to support Puerto Rican relief efforts.
Governor Cuomo launched the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico over this past weekend. In addition to the statewide donation effort, Governor Cuomo has also engaged the Partnership for New York City, the city's leading business organization, to establish the Puerto Rico Relief & Rebuilding Fund at New York Community Trust, a public foundation, that will make grants to local charitable organizations in Puerto Rico that are helping with recovery and rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, focusing on the most needy households and communities. Funds and in kind contributions are being solicited from the business community, with a minimum donation of $10,000. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Charities Bureau is monitoring the fund to ensure all necessary rules and regulations governing the solicitation of funds are followed. JetBlue has already committed to $1 million as an in-kind contribution to transport the customers and cargo for relief efforts.
Additionally, the Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Association of New York State, the New York State Nurses Association and 1199SEIU will work together on a three-pronged approach to provide medical assistance to Puerto Rico. The partnership will: Identify teams of health care professionals, including bilingual professionals, to deploy to Puerto Rico; Provide logistical support to assist in obtaining and delivering medicine and medical supplies; Develop sister relationships between health care facilities in New York and those in Puerto Rico to provide comprehensive support during the long term recovery of Puerto Rico's health care system.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is also preparing to deploy emergency personnel to Puerto Rico to assist in the coordinated recovery efforts. The Port will assign 45 aviation staff to assist at San Juan International Airport and other airports in the Commonwealth, 11 Port staff to assess damage and assist with re-establishment of Port of San Juan operations, and 10 members of the Port Authority Police Department are available for search and rescue as well as support to airport security. In addition, the Office of Emergency Management will provide support equipment and four EMTs to assist. The Port Authority team will be an entirely self-sufficient operation.
Prior to the creation of the Empire State Recovery and Relief Effort for Puerto Rico, Governor Cuomo traveled to Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of the storm following an official governor to governor request from Governor Ricardo Rosselló for a number of essential supplies. In response to Governor Rosselló's request, Governor Cuomo immediately made available more than 34,000 bottles of water, 9,600 ready to eat meals, 3,000 canned goods, 500 flashlights, 1,400 cots, 1,400 blankets, 1,400 pillows and 10 10kw generators. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that 60 members of the New York Army National Guard, four Black Hawk helicopters and 50 State Police are on standby.
Click here to find out how you can join the effort.