Governor Cuomo Announces New Help Desks At JFK Airport To Welcome Passengers Arriving From Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  13. October 2017

Albany, NY - October 13, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new help desks at John F. Kennedy International Airport to provide information about state resource and welcome passengers arriving from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The help desks are located in the baggage claim areas of the Delta and JetBlue terminals -- the two airlines serving Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at JFK. Bilingual New York State employees are staffing the desks to alert arriving passengers of their rights in New York State, as well as supportive services and resources that may be available to them. 
"These new help desks will provide essential information to Puerto Ricans and U.S. Virgin Islanders arriving in the Empire State after the devastation of recent hurricanes," Governor Cuomo said. "With this on-the-ground resource hub, we make it clear to these individuals and their families that in New York, we embrace our fellow Americans with open arms and we will do all we can to ensure that they are aware of the full extent of their rights and resources available to them in our state."
The help desk will be staffed from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., coinciding with the arrival of the first and last flight from the islands. The resources that may be available to these individuals, subject to eligibility requirements, include:
  • Access to health insurance;
  • Affordable housing;
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program;
  • Immunizations;
  • New York State Career Centers;
  • NYS-TEACHS for McKinney-Vento Act Assistance;
  • Nutrition Services for Women, Infants and Children;
  • State University of New York and City University of New York;
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and
  • Temporary Assistance.
Those coming from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who are looking for assistance with education, employment, healthcare, and housing and financial assistance are encouraged to call the New York State Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Helpline at 1-888-364-4901. The hotline is currently staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with bilingual operators ready to assist.
Under the McKinney-Vento Act, children and youth have the right to immediately enroll in school without records, including school records, medical records, vaccination records, or proof of residency. Children who have a current Individualized Education Plan also have the right to receive special education services, and children and youth have the right to receive free school meals without filling out an application.
State University of New York and City University of New York have made efforts to ensure that displaced students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have access to housing and are eligible to pay the in-state tuition rate.
New York State's Career Centers offer a variety of classes, workshops and job fairs for individuals seeking employment. Career counselors are available to offer advice and referrals to candidates from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist them in their job search.
Individuals and their families planning to move to New York have access to health insurance through the NY State of Health, New York's Health Insurance Marketplace. Application assistance is available in various languages, including Spanish. Additionally, children under 19 years of age are eligible to receive any routinely-recommended vaccines through the New York State Vaccines for Children Program if they do not have health insurance, if their health insurance does not cover vaccines, or if they are enrolled in Medicaid or the New York State Child Health Plus Insurance Program.
Income-eligible mothers have access to Nutrition Services for Women, Infants and Children, which offers nutritious foods, breastfeeding support and referrals to pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, infants and children up to the age of five. Additionally, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, like Puerto Rico's Nutrition Assistance Program, is available to help low-income households to purchase food. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program offers free and nutritious foods to seniors of 60 years and older in New York City and on Long Island.
Housing & Financial Assistance
Those entering New York State from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands may be eligible for Temporary Assistance, which provides income support for needy individuals and their families. For more information on affordable housing options in New York State, please click here.
"We are pleased to support Governor Cuomo's help desk program to assist hurricane victims as they arrive in JFK," said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue. "We commend the Governor's efforts to take action after these devastating hurricanes. As New York's Hometown Airline and the largest airline in Puerto Rico, we continue with our 100x35JetBlue program to make a meaningful difference in Puerto Rico's recovery."
Henry Kuykendall, Senior Vice President, Airport Operations-Northeast, Delta Air Lines, "From transporting supplies and relief personnel to Puerto Rico on our aircraft to enabling assistance and services for residents of the island who are arriving in our terminals in New York, Delta is committed to serving alongside Governor Cuomo in delivering the help needed for relief and recovery."
SEIU Local 32BJ President Hector Figueroa said, "I am proud to partner with Governor Cuomo and New York State to provide real-time assistance to incoming Puerto Ricans and U.S. Virgin Islanders. This help desk at JFK will offer a one-stop shop for these passengers entering the country, giving them the information they need to know their rights and the resources available to them in New York."
Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Rick Cotton said, "Port Authority stands ready to assist our fellow Americans as they come to New York through JFK as they seek refuge from the devastation Hurricane Maria left behind in the Caribbean. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and I look forward to seeing New Yorkers do what they do best - help those in need. This help desk serves as a vital information source for Puerto Ricans and U.S. Virgin Islanders as they come to New York."
State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have had enough hardship, they shouldn't have the added burden of worrying about their health.  Whether it's for a short term stay or a longer term relocation, Governor Cuomo is making sure our visitors understand the health and nutrition programs that may be available to help them during this difficult time." 
RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal said, "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is committed to doing everything we can to help families arriving from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands access the resources they need to start rebuilding their lives.  We will provide the tools and support families need to find accessible, affordable homes and apartments in communities across the state." 
State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Governor Cuomo is leading New York's charge to help those affected by the catastrophic hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The New York State Department of Labor stands ready to assist in this effort however possible and I thank our partners in organized labor for stepping up and answering the Governor's call to action in this time of crisis."
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "Governor Cuomo has long been a champion of assisting our most vulnerable citizens, no matter their circumstance. We stand ready to assist in any way we can to help these individuals and families, who have already been through so much, to put their lives back together again." 
SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, SUNY has taken major steps to ensure that our fellow Americans from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are offered ample opportunity to come to New York and get a quality education. With this help desk, we can be on the front lines, ensuring that incoming passengers at JFK can learn about all the opportunities available to them in the State of New York."
CUNY Board Chair William Thompson said, "As our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are working to rebuild their ravaged island, New York stands ready to ensure they can still afford to receive a quality education in New York State. CUNY continues to work with Governor Cuomo and New York State as we do all that we can to help these Americans in need and this help desk will be a key point for these individuals to get the information they need as soon as they land at JFK." 
To date, New York has deployed:
  • 132 National Guard Military Police
  • 60 National Guard soldiers
  • Four Black Hawk helicopters
  • 78 Volunteer Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners
  • More than 70 Port Authority personnel
  • More than 50 State Troopers
  • 20 New York Power Authority experts
  • Five-member logistical support team from the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
  • Two Department of Environmental Conservation drone pilots
New York State has sent more than 446,000 bottles of water, 19,000 canned goods, 84,600 packages of baby wipes, 210,000 packages of diapers, 41,200 containers of baby food, 15,000 juice pouches, 8,600 solar lamps, 6,300 pounds of dry food and 10 generators to the island.
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced the deployment of 78 medical personnel from across New York's health care community to provide Puerto Rico with critically-needed health care assistance across the island. The volunteer initiative was made possible by the generous efforts of Greater New York Hospital Association, the Healthcare Association of New York State, Community Health Care Association of New York State, New York State Nurses Association and 1199SEIU. The team of volunteers arrived yesterday and will be deployed for 14 days and will serve at either the Federal Medical Center in Manati or will provide support on the critical relief missions that are being carried out by Disaster Medical Assistance Teams across Puerto Rico.
In addition to the team of personnel, emergency medical supplies continue to be delivered to Puerto Rico via a partnership with GNYHA, the Afya Foundation, and UJA-Federation of New York. Working together to coordinate all aspects of the missions, including securing private jets and purchasing more than $1 million in supplies, the partnership has delivered more than 30,000 lbs. of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to 16 hospitals and health care organizations and 12 community organizations to help ensure that Puerto Rican residents have access to critical medical care. Shipments have included vital medical supplies including 3,000 vials of insulin, transplant surgery drugs, pediatric oncology drugs, antibiotics and vaccines.
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.
For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico, and to learn how you can assist, please visit the Governor's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.

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