The following is from Sen. Elizabeth Warren
One year ago, Hurricane Maria turned Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands into a disaster zone.
Millions of residents were left without power, clean water, or access to help. Hurricane Irma, which arrived soon before Maria, pummeled the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands faced a full-blown humanitarian crisis, and it happened on U.S. soil, to U.S. citizens.
Hurricane Maria destroyed more than 70,000 homes in Puerto Rico and damaged 300,000 more. In the storm’s aftermath, thousands of families left the island and sought shelter on the mainland, often near relatives. Many wound up in Massachusetts, where over 300,000 people have ties to Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, the federal government’s response to the disasters was appalling. Thousands of U.S. citizens died from the storm and its aftermath, due in large part to the failures of the Trump Administration. Many Puerto Ricans who fled to the mainland struggled to receive housing assistance, and the Trump Administration has refused to implement a longer-term housing program to help those who were displaced.
I had been deeply involved in Puerto Rico issues long before Hurricane Maria. The island was already staggering under more than $70 billion in debt, which promised to cripple its economy and its future. Much of this debt was snapped up for pennies on the dollar by vulture funds looking to make a quick buck at the expense of the people of Puerto Rico. I worked to try to stop Wall Street from lining its pockets at Puerto Rico’s expense.
But when Hurricane Maria arrived, everything became far worse. A year later, the needs of those caught in the storm’s path are still daunting. Since the hurricane, I’ve fought hard to ensure that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have the resources they need to recover, and for strong federal oversight of recovery efforts.
With a new hurricane season underway, and with a President who doesn’t seem to understand how badly the islands were hurt, it’s important to continue our focus on rebuilding resilient infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands so that they can withstand and recover from another brutal storm like Maria. While conditions have improved in Puerto Rico, there are still frequent blackouts, the health care system is still reeling, and much of the housing is not yet repaired. We’ve still got a lot of work to do and I’ll be right there with our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands every step of the way.