National coalition seeks immediate public and private aid for 3.5 million Americans desperate for help in the aftermath of Hurricane María
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane María, a coalition of leaders from Minnesota, Washington, D.C. and cities across the country are coordinating a massive effort to heighten awareness of the crisis engulfing Puerto Rico. The national coalition is united in its demand for a massive response from military and government relief agencies to prevent a humanitarian crisis on the island of 3.5 million United States citizens.
“We have reports from across the island and the situation is critical,” said Minnesota State Senator Melisa Franzen, a native of Puerto Rico. “Desperately needed supplies are not reaching the most remote parts of the island. Communication and transportation is still impossible in the hardest hit areas.”
The destruction left by Hurricane María is unprecedented and calls for an unprecedented response. Electricity and clean water supplies may not be restored for many months. Hospitals and pharmacies are without power or closed. Many functioning medical facilities are at capacity and turning patients away. Those with access to transportation and generators are scrambling for scarce supplies of gasoline, diesel and propane. Ports have become bottlenecks where supplies that have reached the island are waiting for transport and distribution. Humanitarian aid is trapped by red tape. The flow of critical goods across the island is hampered by spotty communications and impassable roadways. The coalition is calling on the private sector with business interests on the island to join with government efforts and lend expertise and resources in this call to action.
“On the eve of the President’s arrival in Puerto Rico, we urge the administration to visit hospitals, nursing homes and the interior of the island, which is in desperate need of basic life-saving supplies like clean water and food. Fuel and medicine have become luxuries that people cannot afford to live without for much longer,” said Minnesota State Representative Carlos Mariani, who has ties to the island. “People have nowhere to go and time is running out for children, the sick, and the elderly,” he added.
The coalition urges the media to tell the American people the real story about the desperate conditions in Puerto Rico. The coalition calls on Congress, the White House and the public at large to join this united effort to save lives today. “Nothing short of massive intervention by the military and government agencies will prevent a humanitarian crisis and the loss of more lives,” said Senator Franzen.