Congressman Sires Statement on the One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Maria
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Sires issued the following statement marking one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:
“On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on American shores. The response by the federal government has been at best haphazard, and at worst cost lives. Five days after the storm, President Trump still had not lifted the Jones Act to ease shipments of aid to Puerto Rico. Ten days later, over 1.53 million still people lacked access to drinking water. Six months later, the federal government had only distributed 5.5% of the $23 billion pledged to the victims for nutritional assistance.
Now, one year later, independent investigations have determined 2,975 Americans died in Puerto Rico alone as a result of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. It is disturbing that members of the federal government, public servants dedicated to protecting the American people, continue to deny the horrific scope of this disaster.
My colleagues and I have sent letters to the Administration asking for expanded, expedited Community Disaster Loans, and letters to Congressional leadership asking for increased disaster relief funding in Appropriations. We have held hearings, spoken on the floor of the House of Representatives, come together to support legislation like the COUNT Victims Act; a bill to ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) always fulfills best practices in population counts after a disaster. Yet, more can still be done.
I will continue to fight in Washington to protect the memory of the victims in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and help the survivors rebuild. We cannot erase the disgraceful response by the federal government. Instead, we must choose today to fulfill our duties, prevent a repeated occurrence, and aid our fellow Americans in their continuing time of need.”