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Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito Announce City Efforts to Support Hurricane Maria Relief

September 21, 2017

NEW YORK— As Hurricane Maria barrels through Puerto Rico, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito announced efforts the City is making to help with the recovery. In addition to deploying 36 members of the Urban Search and Rescue New York Task Force 1 (NY TF-1) to Puerto Rico, the City is also deploying NYC Emergency Management employees with expertise in logistics, debris management, operations, and recovery to San Juan to assist in Puerto Rico's Emergency Operations Center.

“We’ve deployed personnel and now we are stepping up to do more,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City stands with Puerto Rico and will do everything possible to help with recovery.”

“New Yorkers have always helped out our neighbors in times of need, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, we stand ready to provide assistance to Puerto Rico. City employees can help out in several ways, including volunteering on the island to support what is expected to be a months long recovery process, or through donations made to the Mayor’s Fund by enrolling in a payroll deduction,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I join the Mayor in putting out this call for volunteers and extend my gratitude to anyone who helps contribute to relief efforts. My thoughts are with the Puerto Rican community during this difficult time, and I want to stress that we New York City will offer help however possible.”

On Thursday, City employees will receive an email informing them of the option to make a donation from their paychecks to Hurricane Maria relief efforts. The funds, which will be directed through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, will be distributed to organizations working to support the 3.5 million Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean residents who have been impacted by this storm. The City will also be identifying firehouses across the five boroughs where people can donate specific items needed for recovery: batteries, diapers, baby food, and first aid.

Once it is determined which skill sets are needed from volunteers, the City will work with the Mayor of San Juan to make sure that New York City employees who wish to volunteer will have assistance in doing so. Those who possess relevant and needed skillset will be especially needed and the City will connect those employees to organizations already working on the ground.

"The people of Puerto Rico need our help. Hurricane Maria has devastated the island, and it will take months if not years to repair the damage done and rebuild what has been lost. I urge City employees to take advantage of this opportunity to support relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and I will continue to work with Mayor de Blasio and others to support efforts to help Puerto Rico during their time of urgent need. The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens, and I urge their fellow Americans do everything they can to assist them in this desperate moment," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“We have witnessed much devastation this hurricane season, and the impact has been particularly destructive throughout the Caribbean leaving millions of families without shelter, electricity, and their lives in ruins,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Recovery and rebuilding will not be easy. We all have a part to play and each must answer the call to provide relief and aid in the immense rebuilding efforts that it will take to assist all who have been affected. I commend Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito, and all New Yorkers who stand ready to answer this call by allowing voluntary payroll deductions to assist with relief efforts. These recent hurricanes have been unprecedented, but we must remain vigilant and continue forward to help these communities rebuild.”
U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez said, “The people of New York City and Puerto Rico are inextricably linked with many of our residents having Puerto Rican roots and family and friends on the Island.  New Yorkers take care of each other in times of need and this same spirit extends to the people of Puerto Rico as they respond to this historic disaster. I’m proud to see the Mayor taking these practical steps and will continue working at the federal level to boost assistance to the Island.”
"I want to profoundly thank the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Esposito for taking swift steps and deploying city employees that have the necessary expertise in order to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "This natural disaster has left three million American citizens living on the island in complete peril. As those affected by Hurricane Maria start facing the challenge of their lifetime, our City, which has a deep and personal connection to Puerto Rico, must come together and help them restart and rebuild." 
Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said, "All help and assistance is critically needed in Puerto Rico. City employee donations for hurricane relief efforts can make a major difference and provide additional resources. My Sunset Park office has been collecting food and supplies for island relief efforts and we’ll continue this effort well into the days ahead. I am gratified by the good will and support New Yorkers are demonstrating to help Puerto Rico in this time of need.”
"I applaud our Mayor and Speaker for helping to provide a diverse array of opportunities for New Yorkers to get involved in the relief efforts. From City employees, to leaders in elected office, to everyday residents of New York City - many of us with deep roots and family members on the island - we all want to find a way to be most helpful in this time of need," said Assembly Member Marcos A. Crespo. "New York City has always served as a model for communities that come together and roll up their sleeves when needed, and I assure all that this time will be no different."
“I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their Hurricane Maria relief efforts. The damage Puerto Rico suffered is massive and now is the crucial time to act and help.  I want to encourage all New York City employees to volunteer and participate for this program,” said Assembly Member Davila.
“Every New Yorker is affected by this tragedy. If our own families are not impacted, then we all have at least one dear friend whose family is. All of us on the City Council are united in this effort and prepared to serve in any way we can. We encourage the rest of our fellow New Yorkers to do the same," said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
“As we continue to assess the damage in Puerto Rico, I find it deeply gratifying that Mayor De Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito are taking proactive steps to initiate the rebuilding process. Today’s announcement outlines a multi-pronged approach that will allow New Yorkers to assist in these relief efforts. My colleagues and I stand in solidarity with Puerto Rico and all who have been affected by this natural disaster,” said Council Member Annabel Palma.
Council Member Antonio Reynoso said, “My thoughts are with the families of the Caribbean who are experiencing this storm and its aftermath. So many of my constituents have family and loved ones in Puerto Rico, and I know they will appreciate this response by Mayor de Blasio, OEM, and FDNY. The island is going to need our support in the coming months, and I know my community will join the City in contributing to the relief effort.”
“I am devastated by the news of the enormous damage that has occurred in Puerto Rico from both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. My constituents in the Lower East Side have family in Puerto Rico and they are concerned and worried. Many in the LES are leading initiatives to support recovery on the island. I am so grateful that our Mayor and Speaker are deploying resources to the island for the recovery efforts. I am urging all New Yorkers to donate to Puerto Rico whose recovery from the devastating efforts of Hurricane Maria is further complicated by the existing financial and health crisis,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez, District 2.

"New York's bond with Puerto Rico is like no other, and in their time of need, all of our Puerto Rican friends and family should know that NYC is here for them," said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. "I appreciate Mayor de Blasio's and the Speaker's quick response and steadfast leadership on ensuring Puerto Rico has the support it needs, and I'm ready to help however I can."

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