As Puerto Rico continues to recover from the damage of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the deployment of New York State personnel and resources to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Dorian is expected to affect the region.
The Governor directed the New York Power Authority to send a team of personnel to monitor the situation from the two locations and work with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and U.S. Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority on emergency response. Additional NYPA personnel are ready to be deployed as needed. The Governor also directed New York State Police to have 100 troopers on standby to be deployed to the islands, and the Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services is prepared to assist with command and control logistics, communication, planning and other emergency support functions on the ground.
Since Hurricane Maria's landfall in September 2017, Governor Cuomo has traveled to Puerto Rico five times and has continuously directed critical resources to communities in need. In the immediate aftermath, New York established the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, ultimately distributing at least 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donation sites across the state. New York State also deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including hundreds of utility workers and power experts to help with power restoration and grid stabilization.
New York State has dedicated approximately US$13 million to support the more than 11,000 displaced Hurricane Maria victims living in New York. Part of this funding is being directed to organizations who connect vulnerable Puerto Ricans to needed services such as employment, housing, benefits counseling and health care. Governor Cuomo has also committed up to $11 million dollars in housing and workforce funding for displaced Puerto Ricans: a $1 million program to provide robust case management services to displaced Puerto Ricans, and up to $10 million in job training and placement.
NYPA is presently offering continued consultation on a wide-range of issues relating to the rebuilding of Puerto Rico's grid, focusing specifically on these areas: technical assistance and advocacy, reforming management and operations, and strengthening emergency preparedness. Between the months of November 2017 and April 2018, more than 450 New York State utility personnel, led by NYPA, went to Puerto Rico to help restore power. The New York State utility crews, under NYPA's leadership, consisted primarily of transmission and distribution experts, damage assessors and general support staff, who undertook repairs to transmission lines and other electric infrastructure work focusing its initial power restoration efforts in San Juan. They brought with them hundreds of bucket trucks, diggers, excavators and other specialized equipment to complete the necessary repairs to damaged transmission and distribution lines and worked 16-hour days, seven days-a-week to help restore power. The NYS utility workers then joined with utility workers from around the country—led by the Edison Electric Institute, the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association—to help restore power to other areas of the island.
After the 2018 summer, Governor Cuomo announced the successful completion of the summer-long NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative. Throughout the summer, more than 650 SUNY and CUNY students, as well as skilled labor volunteers, traveled to island communities still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma to provide assistance to those in need. Over the course of five deployments, volunteers logged in nearly 41,000 hours cleaning, restoring, and rebuilding homes. The goal to renovate 150 homes was far exceeded, with a total of 178 homes restored over 10 weeks. The Governor has continued deployments of SUNY and CUNY students to aid in the recovery efforts throughout summer 2019.