Governor Kathy Hochul today announced New York State actions to support Puerto Rico in the wake of devastating flooding and winds caused by Hurricane Fiona, the worst storm to hit the island since Hurricane Maria in 2017. Following a call with Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi, Governor Hochul directed the New York State Police to send 50 Troopers to assist with keeping residents safe, and 50 additional Troopers will be deployed in the coming weeks. The Governor also announced that the state has been working with Delta, JetBlue, Coca-Cola, New York State’s Building Trades, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and SOMOS Community Care, who have all pledged their support for response and recovery efforts. Additionally, teams from the New York Power Authority are ready to deploy and assist in restoring power to the island.
“New York knows full well the devastating impact that Mother Nature can bring, and that is why we stand ready to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild from this terrible storm,” Governor Hochul said. “Our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico are incredibly resilient but, in times like this, New York will be there to help in any way we can, including sending personnel and resources to help the island and its residents recover.”
The Dominican Republic is also being impacted by Hurricane Fiona, and Governor Hochul remains in contact with the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, to support the country’s relief efforts. Governor Hochul reiterated that the storm is not yet over, as its general motion northwest is expected to continue through this evening, before making a turn to the northeast later this week.
On Sunday, President Biden declared Hurricane Fiona an emergency, authorizing FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts. New York will work to support any requests coordinated by FEMA in the coming days to assist the residents of Puerto Rico. Delta and JetBlue will both donate cargo space and transport emergency personnel; the Greater New York Hospital Association will provide medical supplies; and Coca-Cola has committed water and additional supplies. Habitat for Humanity of New York City and Westchester County and the State’s Building Trades also have committed their support as needs are identified.
Puerto Rico has seen rainfall from the storm totaling 12 to 20 inches, and up to 30 inches in some localized areas. These rainfall amounts are capable of producing life-threatening and catastrophic flooding. More than one million Puerto Ricans are currently without power as critical infrastructure systems have been damaged, and tropical storm conditions continue to impact the island.
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Our hearts are with the people of Puerto Rico as they endure the impacts of yet another devastating hurricane. Governor Hochul and I are closely tracking Fiona and any further impacts the storm may have beyond the island. DHSES’ Emergency Operations Center will coordinate State agency response on the ground as additional requests come in from both FEMA and Puerto Rico.”
New York Power Authority Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “NYPA stands with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico as they weather Hurricane Fiona and the challenges this storm presents. As we’ve assisted Puerto Rico in the aftermath of recent hurricanes, today we stand at the ready to assist with the response to Fiona. NYPA has assisted with the resiliency and reliability of Puerto Rico’s energy management system, and we’ve helped with strategic planning to help move the island away from a fossil fuel dependent grid. As this emergency unfolds, we are staying abreast of needs and readying resources to assist as needed.”
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “State Troopers always stand at the ready to provide assistance when needed, whether it’s in New York State or elsewhere. We are committed to this mission to assist our neighbors in Puerto Rico as they recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.”
Since Hurricane Maria, New York has helped Puerto Rico secure billions of dollars in federal funding from FEMA to recover and rebuild the island’s energy infrastructure, in addition to NYPA performing technical assessments of powerplants and substations on the island.
In November of 2021, Governor Hochul announced a to expand solar development support for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. As part of the partnership, the State provided new curriculum and permitting and financing expertise that will support the development of solar industries on the islands. This effort further strengthened New York’s long-standing commitment to support Puerto Rico’s reconstruction and recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and helped reinforce New York State’s commitment to ensuring a growing clean energy workforce pipeline and an equitable clean energy transition.