By Zachary R. Dowdy
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will travel to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria on Friday at the request of the governor of the storm-ravaged island where many New Yorkers have both roots and relatives.
"New York is home to more Puerto Ricans than any other state in the country, and our hearts break for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as they begin to rebuild after the unimaginable devastation of Hurricane Maria," Cuomo said in a news release Thursday night. "We are sending requested resources and personnel to help the island rebuild, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Puerto Rican community in their time of need."
Cuomo is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday before boarding a JetBlue airplane at 7:15 a.m. at the Sheltair Terminal at JFK Airport.
Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosello, said in the same news release that he reached out to Cuomo for help as Puerto Rico copes with a hurricane that officials said killed at least nine people, knocked out power on the whole island and caused untold damage.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, I have made an official governor to governor request that Governor Cuomo and the State of New York provide essential goods, services, and expertise to help us assess the devastation and develop a plan for recovery," he said. "Puerto Rico has endured an horrific ordeal and we are lucky to have a friend like Governor Cuomo and New York State who we share a close bond and deep history with."
Cuomo will travel with as many as 10 New York Power Authority engineers, translators and supervisors and Department of Environmental Conservation drones and drone pilots to help restore power to the island and deliver emergency supplies, authorities said.
"We are honored to support this relief flight, the first of many to come, as the people of Puerto Rico begin to recover from this terrible event," said Robin Hayes, president and CEO of JetBlue, which is donating the use of one of its planes for the governor's trip.
Teams will conduct damage assessments of the island's generation, transmission and distribution system, the governor's office said, prioritizing restoration and rebuilding work and coordinating works between New York and Puerto Rico-based utilities as well as federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Energy.