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  • Introduced


City Council
Introduced by Council

Res. No.


Resolution calling on the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign, HR. 6103/S. 3076, which would establish a national commission on the federal response to the 2017 natural disasters in Puerto Rico.


By Council Member Ayala, The Speaker (Council Member Johnson) and Council Members Rivera and Salamanca


                     Whereas, New York City has the largest Puerto Rican population of any mainland city and many New Yorkers have deep ties to the Island; and, 

Whereas, In September 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by a series of natural disasters that included hurricanes, landslides and widespread flooding; and,

                     Whereas, The most devastating of these was Hurricane Maria; and,

                     Whereas, Together, these disasters destroyed more than a third of homes on the Island, knocked out power to all 3.4 million residents and contributed to the spread of disease; and,

Whereas, Credit rating agency Moody’s estimated the cost of the damage to be somewhere between $45 billion and $95 billion; and,

Whereas, In addition to the devastating effects on Puerto Rico’s environment, infrastructure and economy, the hurricanes caused widespread fatalities; and,

Whereas, The original death toll, which was the official tally for months, stated that only 64 fatalities were due to the hurricanes and their lingering effects; and,

Whereas, However, a recent study by researchers from the George Washington University put the death toll at nearly 3,000, which is more than 46 times the official count; and,

Whereas, Officials in Puerto Rico have failed to be transparent with the information and data on the impact of the natural disasters; and,

Whereas, Information has become so difficult to access that news outlets CNN and the Center for Investigative Journalism sued the Puerto Rican government for access to death records and associated data; and, 

Whereas, The federal government’s response to the disasters in Puerto Rico also appears to be underwhelming, especially in comparison to the support offered to the mainland states that were effected by different hurricanes in 2017; and,

Whereas, Despite Hurricane Maria being the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane, a joint investigation by PBS Frontline and NPR showed that the federal government had three times as many people on the ground in Texas and twice as many as in Florida than it did in Puerto Rico, a week after each storm hit; and,

Whereas, This same investigation reported that nine days after each hurricane, there was twice as much water and four times as many meals and tarps distributed by federal officials in Houston and Florida than in Puerto Rico; and,

Whereas, The recovery efforts in Puerto Rico have also been marred by possible criminal behavior on the part of contractors; and,

Whereas, The FBI and other agencies are investigating the $300 million contract between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and Whitefish Energy Holdings to repair the Island’s power grid, which was cancelled soon after the specifics of the contract and bid were scrutinized by reporters; and,

Whereas, The lack of a transparent, consistent and coordinated response to the disasters in Puerto Ricco is troubling; and,

Whereas, In June, 2018, New York representatives Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation that would establish a national commission to investigate the federal government’s disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico;

Whereas, HR. 6103/S. 3076 would establish an eight member panel, with subpoena power, to examine the federal government’s preparedness, response, and recovery efforts and how the incredibly low, official death count contributed to the inadequate response; and,

Whereas, It has been a year since Hurricane Maria hit the Island and new hurricane season is about to start; and

Whereas, It is imperative that the inadequate and unequal federal relief effort, the lack of transparency, and the unreliable, original death toll, finally be addressed; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the United States Congress pass, and the President sign, HR 6103/S 3076, which would establish a national commission on the federal response to the 2017 natural disasters in Puerto Rico.


LS #7374