Following the federal government’s less-than-satisfactory response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico, four members of Congress spoke directly to AFSCME members on the island to encourage them in this time of need.
The U.S. representatives in the videos below praised efforts by our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico, who are serving their communities despite dire conditions on the ground. These workers are members of Servidores Publicos Unidos de Puerto Rico (SPUPR)/AFSCME Council 95.
The members of Congress pledged to stand with island’s residents and help with short- and long-term rebuilding efforts. Hurricane Maria, which struck on Sept. 20, wiped out the commonwealth’s entire power grid, toppled cell phone towers and caused landslides and floods that isolated many communities.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez of New York (video in Spanish): “Here, alongside Democratic leadership, we will be fighting to provide Puerto Rico the necessary resources to help it recover. I also want to thank you for the hard work and long hours you are putting in to help the people of Puerto Rico stand up.”
Rep. José Serrano of New York (video in Spanish): “I am working jointly with your national president, Lee Saunders, and with the entire union at the national level, and we are not going to forget you. In one way or another we will help Puerto Rico lift itself up and move on. Don’t lose hope.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois: “To all the brothers and sisters from AFSCME, I’m going to be there this weekend too. I’m happy that you’re going to be there, spreading the word of hope for the people of Puerto Rico and bringing that word back here to the United States, to say, ‘Let’s have a rescue mission, let’s use the fire and fury of the federal government to help the people of Puerto Rico.’”
Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona: “I know you’re going through some very tough times but I want you to know that here in Washington, DC, we believe in you, we’re praying for you. We know you’re working your heart out to take care of your family but also to go to work and take care of your communities.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland: “We’re doing everything possible to make sure that you get everything that you need to a) keep you safe and healthy in the immediate term, and then b) to rebuild so that we protect the jobs and the economy of Puerto Rico in the long term.”
These statements contrasted with President Donald Trump’s tweets on Saturday targeting the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who criticized the Trump administration’s attempt to frame coverage of Hurricane Maria as a “good news story.”
“This is not a good-news story,” she said. “This is a ‘people are dying’ story. This is a life-or-death story.”
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders spoke up for the thousands of public service workers in Puerto Rico, who he said are “tirelessly trying to save their communities, even though many have no water, electricity or phone service themselves.”
“President Trump has proven once again that he has no respect for the everyday heroes who go above and beyond to save their neighbors and communities,” Saunders added.