Although there is just over two months until the beginning of the 2018 Hurricane Season, the people of Puerto Rico are still cleaning up the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster recorded on the island that nearly decimated the island. Recently, Congressman Scott Taylor (VA-2) took a trip to tour parts of the island after he has worked with Jenniffer González, the island’s representative in Congress, to help secure funding for infrastructure rebuilds and the revitalization of the power grid.
Taylor traveled to Orocovis in the central part of Puerto Rico and met with the town’s mayor, Jesús Colón, alongside González to discuss what is currently happening with rebuilding the entire island. As he stepped over loose rocks and was detoured around still-flooded parts of the island, he said, “it’s important we do our job to help Americans that live here in Puerto Rico.”
41 percent of Puerto Rico is still without power, leaving the rebuilding process to be dragged on. Currently, some cell phone towers and other equipment and infrastructure components are powered by diesel generators. After seeing this, Taylor said the town of Orocovis and the entirety of the island is, “not out of the woodwork yet.”
The town he visited was almost completely submerged when Hurricane Maria hit after the River Quebrada Los Santos rose well over 10 feet past its high point. Although the waters have receded, much of Orocovis is still in disrepair.
Taylor feels a special connection to the people of the island as they are a big part of the community in the district he represents. “As you guys know back home, we have may Puerto Ricans in the Navy in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and the whole surrounding area,” Taylor said.
Speaking about González, who he helped navigate through the procedures in Congress and committees, Taylor said, “She was instrumental in dealing with the Appropriations committee, as well as leadership, in order to get the most money in the history of Puerto Rico to help folks here.”
In reference to the funding that will eventually get to Puerto Rican officials, Taylor explained, “We’ve already appropriated the money, but it’s important that we find an efficient and effective way to get it to municipalities.”
Hurricane Maria caused $91 billion in damages in Puerto Rico. As the 78 municipalities continue to rebuild with little money, Taylor is working hard to make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will both fund and reimburse projects on the island.