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Equal non-discriminatory Federal treatment for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in natural disaster recovery efforts

Sponsored by: Sen. Carmelo Ríos (PR), Sen. Janette Millin-Young (VI), Rep. Angela Romero (UT), Rep. Carlos Tobón (RI), Rep. Mark Wheatley (UT), Rep. Angel Cruz (PA), Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (NM), Sen. Iris Martínez (IL), Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR), Del. Elizabeth Guzmán (VA), Rep. David Santiago (FL), Rep. Dan Pabón (CO), Rep. Joe Miró (DE), Sen. Martin Quesada (AZ), Sen. Mo Denis (NV), Rep. Louis Ruiz (KS), Sen. Richard Martínez (NM), Assm. José Rivera (NY), Rep. Tony Navarrete (AZ), Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (MD), Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Pérez (NJ), Sen. Zoe Laboy (PR), Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray (MN), Rep. Angel Matos (PR), Rep. Deborah González (GA), Rep. Pedro Marín (GA), Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (WA), Rep. Cristina Castro (IL)

 Sen. Carmelo Ríos (PR)

Sponsored by: Rep. Carmelo Ríos (PR)

WHEREAS, on September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma, categorized by meteorologists as the biggest and most powerful Category 5 Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, devastated several islands in the Caribbean, including the US Virgin Islands, and partially affected Puerto Rico; and,

WHEREAS, two weeks after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in many islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico suffered the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, which according to FEMA is the biggest natural disaster in the history of the United States; and,

WHEREAS, Hurricane Maria impacted Puerto Rico over a period of 30 hours, leaving 40 inches of rain, no possibility of communication, and a road to recovery which is likely to be the toughest challenge in Puerto Rico’s history; and,

WHEREAS, this natural disaster took many lives, left thousands severely affected, led to the partial or total closing of numerous workplaces, and to a 15% increase of suicides on the island; and,

WHEREAS, Puerto Rico had a total collapse of the electrical grid and the telecommunications infrastructure; and,

WHEREAS, respected catastrophe modeling companies, like AIR Worldwide, have estimated damages mounting up to $40 billion, and $85 billion on insured losses, surpassing said company’s estimates for the impact caused on jurisdictions like Texas after Hurricane Harvey; and,

WHEREAS, other firms like Moody’s Analytics estimated the damages caused by Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico, in $95 billion, representing about 150% of the island’s GNP; and,

WHEREAS, the Federal Government has authorized $140.7 billion in the last six months, to be distributed mainly among Texas, Florida, California, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, to help said jurisdictions recover from the damage suffered from natural disasters; and,

WHEREAS, Puerto Ricans and US Virgin Islanders are American citizens, sheltered by the same laws and protections American citizens living on the mainland enjoy; and,

WHEREAS, the Treasury Department has only disbursed approximately $2 billion, from the initial $4.7 billion loan allocated by Congress under the Community Disaster Loan (CDL) Program to Puerto Rico.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators supports that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are treated equally to other jurisdictions in the allocation of funds for their recovery; and,

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators supports that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are treated equally in the disbursement of federal funds assigned to Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands after the natural disasters that affected these jurisdictions.