New York state, home to the U.S. mainland’s biggest Puerto Rican community, is sending a lot more than thoughts and prayers to the hurricane-ravaged island. Between them, New York state and city have committed hundreds of workers and organized aid ranging from rescue helicopters to field rations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the first flight allowed to land after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico last week, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined city workers this weekend to aid relief on the island.
“She tells me every day not to worry about her, though the level of desperation is getting there,” Mark-Viverito said of her mother on Wednesday, her voice breaking. Her mother had left her damaged home to stay with friends in a high-rise with no power and had stood in a five-hour line to get gasoline.
State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo is waiting to hear from his own mother and relatives even as he fields unceasing phone calls from constituents trying to reach theirs.
“The one thing that keeps me going is knowing how many people are willing to help,” said Crespo, a Democrat like Cuomo and Mark-Viverito.
That includes committing hundreds of state troopers and other workers, plus organizing an aid package that reads like the shopping list for a small army: 34,000 bottles of water, 10,000 field rations, 1,400 cots, 500 flashlights, 10 electrical generators and four Black Hawk helicopters. One of New York’s biggest homegrown pop stars, Jennifer Lopez, donated $1 million to relief efforts at a press conference with Cuomo on Sunday.