Dear member of Congress,
Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving destruction, damage, and fear for millions of families. While rescue missions are still taking place to save those trapped in their homes and plans are being made to deliver necessities like food and water, we know that recovery from this historical storm must begin immediately.
While FEMA has $15.25 billion in disaster relief funds available, it won’t be nearly enough. A report by catastrophe-modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that Hurricane Maria could cause as much as $85 billion in losses, with most of that loss being in Puerto Rico.
With so much needed in Puerto Rico, it is doubly devastating to not grant a waiver of the Jones Act of 1920. We ask that a long term waiver be granted post haste.
We also ask that Congress appropriate additional emergency funding for those areas affected by Hurricane Maria immediately, with special attention to the needs of low-income and vulnerable people and communities, so families, businesses, and communities can begin the recovery effort. More funding will be necessary to begin clean up; repair infrastructure, damaged houses, schools, and businesses; provide aid to displaced families; help those who have lost their homes and livelihoods; provide healthcare and nutrition assistance to those in need; and bring in additional emergency response teams. Anyone who has turned on the television in recent days knows this is an emergency situation and that the families in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands need a focused emergency response.
Federal funding should be increased immediately, but should not come at the expense of other programs that support our families’ health care, nutrition, housing, education, and welfare. Under current law, emergency funding is not included under existing budget caps, and Congress should follow the law to ensure an immediate and effective response without causing other harm.
We must learn lessons from past natural disasters and respond with immediacy and not allow politics to get in the way of a strong national response.