Statement On The Devastation To Puerto Rico And The U.S. Virgin Islands

It was 6 years ago that Tropical Storm Irene tore through my home state of Vermont, leaving behind a wound that we are still trying to recover from today.  Just days after that storm, I came back to this Chamber, stood where I am standing today, and asked for the support Vermont needed to recover and rebuild. 

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, from across the country, stood by Vermont’s side then to help us rebuild.  Today, we must stand with the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  More than 3.5 million American citizens have seen their homes and their communities destroyed from the double blow of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The destruction is catastrophic and the details are still coming.  The vast majority of Puerto Rico is without power and remains in the dark.  At least 44  percent of its people are without potable water, and some estimates put this even higher.  The vast majority of hospitals in Puerto Rico are without power.  The food supply is dwindling.  Cell phone sites are down, crippling communication on the island.  Families are struggling to locate their loved ones. 

We are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis on U.S. soil. 

President Trump, leaders at FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and across the administration must act quickly, and we must put the full force of the United States government behind recovery efforts on these islands. 

Earlier this month, Congress approved $15 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and these resources should be put to work in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well.  But this will not last forever, and we must sustain our commitments, for the long haul, to rebuilding and recovering from ALL of these devastating hurricanes.  

The Administration must prepare an emergency aid request as soon as possible, and Congress should take it up immediately. 

We stand by each other in times of disaster.   One of us braces the storm -- all of us help pick up the pieces.  That is who we are, and that is why we must act. 

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693