Governor Cuomo Announces New Water And Utility Relief Initiatives During Second Trip To Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria

$1 Million Empire State Clean Water Fund Will Help Address Clean Water Crisis.

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Cargo Being Loaded as Part of Governor Cuomo's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico.

Photo by: Governor's Press Office, via Flickr.

Albany, NY - October 26, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today departed on his second relief mission to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and announced new efforts to address two of the largest issues that the island continues to face - access to clean water and restoration of its power grid. The Governor traveled with Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, State Budget Director Robert Mujica and New York State Power Authority President and CEO Gil Quiniones. Once in Puerto Rico, the delegation will meet State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger Parrino who has been on the ground assisting efforts.
Through the Empire State Clean Water Fund, New York is pledging $1 million to support the purchase of water filtration systems for households and communities that continue lack access to clean water. Already, the state has secured commitments from partners including the Partnership for New York City, the Orthodox Union and TIDAL.
Additionally, a 28-member Tactical Power Restoration Team specializing in the supervision of transmission and distribution system recovery will assist ongoing efforts to address the island's power crisis and mobilizing 15 specialized contract accountants to expedite FEMA filings and reimbursements. 
Governor Cuomo and the delegation traveled on a donated Delta flight with a plane-load of water filtration systems. The Governor also delivered over 27,000 bottles of water between the Delta flight and an additional UPS flight. To date, New York has delivered over 1 million bottles of water and millions of pounds of other supplies through the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort thanks to the generous donations of New Yorkers across the state and the support of key partners including UPS and UNICEF. 
"It's time to start talking about rebuilding Puerto Rico and calibrating what this nation should be doing going forward," Governor Cuomo said. "I want Washington to know the answer is not looking towards the termination of the operation because the operation is just beginning. It's a long road and there is a lot of work to do and New York is going to be there as it was from Day 1, until the end. I like to say about New Yorkers, when things are at their worst, New Yorkers are at their best. If you need help, New York is the place to come, always, and New Yorkers have showed that once again here."
With these latest shipments, New York has delivered and distributed to date:
  • 1.1 million bottles of water
  • 1.8 million individual baby wipes
  • 1.1 million diapers
  • 220,300 feminine products
  • 40,420 containers of baby food
  • 37,072 packages of dry food
  • 23,015 canned goods
  • 15,200 bottles/pouches of juice/sport drinks
  • 8,600 solar lamps
  • 10 generators
And deployed:
  • 132 National Guard Military Police
  • 125 National Guard Engineers
  • 60 National Guard soldiers
  • Four Black Hawk helicopters
  • 156 Volunteer Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners
  • More than 70 Port Authority personnel
  • More than 130 State Troopers
  • 24 New York Power Authority experts
  • 24 members of the New York private utilities coalition
  • Five-member logistical support team from the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
  • Two Department of Environmental Conservation drone pilots
Since Hurricane Maria first hit Puerto Rico more than a month ago, the availability of clean water has continued to be one of the most critical barriers to the relief and recovery effort. As with any flooding-related disaster, the primary concern with dirty water is the spread of microbial with diseases such as E. Coli and Cholera and with these two new efforts, New York is taking direct action on solving this issue. Not only will the filtration systems provide clean drinking water, but New York has already donated more than one million bottles of water to the relief effort and the restoration of the power grid will help restore power to municipal water systems and allow more people to be able to boil their water if and when necessary.
Along with the ability to access clean water, the restoration of the power grid is critical to moving recovery efforts forward. Since Hurricane Maria made landfall over a month ago, crews have only been able complete enough repairs to the grid to produce 662 or just 25 percent of the island's average monthly demand of 2685 megawatts.
The 28-member Tactical Power Restoration team of technical experts will deploy in early November and consists of engineers and supervisors from Con Edison/Orange & Rockland, LIPA/PSEG-Long Island, National Grid, NYSEG and RGE to work with PREPA, Puerto Rico's power utility. Workers will be dispatched in teams to seven regions in Puerto Rico to provide technical oversight in the work to restore the island's power grid. 
The utility workers will be complemented by an additional team of 15 contract accountants to help expedite FEMA filings and funding reimbursements, similar to what was done for the Long Island Power Authority during Superstorm Sandy. This follows two previous deployments of NYPA technical experts to Puerto Rico on Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Those NYPA teams embedded themselves within PREPA to assist in the necessary triage to the power grid, including the assessment of virtually all of the island's over 360 substations.
The 30 State Police that traveled with the Governor will build on the efforts of the more than 100 troopers who have been deployed at various times since the storm to assist with security operations. Mission priorities include protecting commodities and fuel and securing the supply chains to ensure that the resources are distributed to people who need them most.
Delta Air Lines Senior Vice President, Airport Operations-Northeast, Henry Kuykendall said, "Delta is proud to support Governor Cuomo's ongoing commitment to delivering the help needed in Puerto Rico. Over the last few weeks, Delta has been honored to transport dozens of State Troopers and hundreds of thousands of pounds of necessary supplies to the island. Delta employees in New York, San Juan and elsewhere stand alongside Governor Cuomo and all of those working toward ongoing relief and recovery in Puerto Rico."
UPS Foundation President and UPS Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Eduardo Martinez said, "The UPS Foundation's Humanitarian Relief program provides lifesaving support to communities in crisis around the world throughout the year. We are honored to be collaborating with our long-time partner, the UNICEF USA, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, who have demonstrated unparalleled leadership since day one of this crisis. To date UPS has sent 30 aircraft charters and transported more than 2.5 million pounds of hurricane relief to aid the people of Puerto Rico."
UNICEF USA President and CEO Caryl Stern said, "Through our partnership with Governor Cuomo & UPS, we're continuing to provide critical relief to the children and families in Puerto Rico who need it most. We're already hearing how our support is giving hope for the future, and we will continue to leverage our resources and networks in support of long-term recovery and rebuilding."
Partnership for New York City President & CEO Kathryn Wylde said, "The business community is proud to support Governor Cuomo's early and sustained support for Puerto Rico's recovery from the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria. New York has a special kinship with the Island. Provision of water filtration equipment is an essential step toward restoring a livable environment in its hardest hit communities."
Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin said, "Right now, Puerto Rico needs our help more than ever and I am so grateful that Governor Cuomo has once again stepped up to the plate to deliver. Resources, dedicated personnel and funding for water treatment systems are critical to the continued recovery efforts on the island. This funding will be key to helping Puerto Rico fix their damaged and failing infrastructure, helping to secure clean water on the island for residents. I am confident that, under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York will continue to help our neighbors as they work on rebuilding their communities across the island."
Dania Diaz of Roc Nation, supporting TIDAL philanthropy efforts, said, "TIDAL continues to support the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort. These efforts will bring lifesaving drinkable water to Puerto Rico more than a month after Hurricane Maria."
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, co-chair of the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, said, "This investment demonstrates Governor Cuomo's commitment to helping Puerto Rico recover and rebuild, and by providing critical funding for water treatment systems, our brothers and sisters will be better equipped to rebuild their lives. I thank the Governor and all New Yorkers for their continued donations to our family and friends on the island and look forward to a quick recovery for all of Puerto Rico."
Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, co-chair of the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, said, "Puerto Rico need access to quality water in order to continue rebuilding, and with the Governor's commitment to fund new water treatment systems, residents on the island will be able to stay hydrated and strong in order while recovering from Hurricane Maria. The generosity shown by so many New Yorkers has already made an impact on Puerto Rican communities, and I encourage our neighbors to continue helping, as we keep our brothers and sisters in our thoughts."  
Additionally, 156 volunteer medical personnel from across New York's health care community have traveled to Puerto Rico to provide citizens 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.
Emergency medical supplies also 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.