Governor Cuomo Announces New Efforts to Support the Recovery and Rebuilding of Puerto Rico

April 19, 2018

From the office of Governor Cuomo

New York Power Authority to Deploy Team of Utility Experts to Assist with the Stabilization of Island's Power Grid Amid Blackout

Governor Sends Letter to FEMA Urging Approval of Puerto Rico's Request for Unconditional Extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program

Tactical Assessment Team of Labor, Non-Profit Rebuilding, Philanthropic and Academic Partners to Deploy on April 29

Establishes the NY Stands with Puerto Rico Rebuilding and Reconstructing Committee

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a number of new efforts to support the continued recovery and rebuilding of Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria 210 days ago. In response to ongoing blackouts, the Governor has directed the New York Power Authority to immediately deploy a team of highly-specialized utility experts to Puerto Rico to assist with power restoration and stabilization efforts. Additionally, the Governor wrote a letter to FEMA urging the extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program. The Governor also announced that a multi-disciplinary Tactical Assessment Team of labor, non-profit rebuilding, philanthropic and academic partners will deploy to Puerto Rico on April 29 to help develop a near-term rebuilding roadmap to assist Puerto Rican communities in need. Additionally, the Governor announced the members of the New York Stands with Puerto Rico Rebuilding and Reconstructing Committee which will guide and advance various Puerto Rican recovery and rebuilding efforts that New York has helped launch over the past several months.

"From day one, New York has been on the ground working hand in hand with Puerto Rico to support the island's recovery effort with lifesaving supplies, expert personnel, and much-needed compassion for those still struggling to recover," Governor Cuomo said. "Whether it's additional support to repair the power grid, helping advocate for fair treatment from the federal government, or bringing the best minds together to help guide the island's recovery, New York will never turn our backs on Puerto Rico and we will stand with our brothers and sisters until the job is done."

Since Hurricane Maria first hit Puerto Rico, New York has sent hundreds of utility personnel, including tactical power restoration experts, and damage assessment experts to assist the island with the repair and restoration of its power grid. As a result of those efforts along with the work of utility mutual aid crews and contractors from the U.S. mainland, power has now been restored to more than 97 percent of the island, however the grid still remains fragile as additional repair and resiliency efforts continue.

Once the 10-person NYPA team arrives in Puerto Rico, the members, who have expertise in controls, relay and protection, system planning, operation planning, generation and transmission operations, will work with PREPA to assess the grid and identify persistent problems. They will then make recommendations for repairs and improvements that will help to prevent power outages, help to ensure that there are redundancies in the system, and ultimately improve resiliency of the grid. 

In addition to this support, Governor Cuomo has also written a letter to FEMA urging its immediate approval of Puerto Rico's request for an unconditional extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program. The program, which allows eligible survivors of disasters to temporarily live in participating hotels at no cost, is currently relied upon by approximately 170 Puerto Rican families living in New York hotels. While FEMA had originally informed these families that the program was to be extended until May 14, the agency recently informed nearly half of them that they were now ineligible and must vacate their hotels by April 21.

On Wednesday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico requested an extension to allow these families to remain sheltered in New York from May 15 through June 30. If FEMA fails to honor this request, hundreds of Puerto Rican disaster survivors would be rendered homeless and serve as yet another example of the federal government turning their backs on these Americans following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Additionally, as part of the recently announced New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Effort, the Governor announced that the Tactical Assessment Team will deploy on April 29. Comprised of members of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council, the Building Trades Employers' Association of New York City, SUNY, CUNY, and various philanthropic and rebuilding non-profit organizations, the team will work to develop a roadmap for rebuilding a stronger and more resilient island. The team will develop a detailed work plan by:

  • Conducting site visits across the island;
  • Meeting with smaller, grassroots non-profits already working on the ground; and
  • Working with Governor Rosselló's team, unions, and members of workforce development initiatives.

In June, once the roadmap is complete, New York will mobilize approximately SUNY and CUNY student volunteers, as well as skilled workers from the building and construction trades, to embed with non-profit organizations already rebuilding on the ground. Approximately 500 SUNY and CUNY students are expected to participate in deployments of roughly 2-4 weeks, earning college credits. This effort also aims to enhance Puerto Rico's rebuilding capacity and to establish a job training program for the local workforce. To lay the groundwork for hundreds of student volunteers, a SUNY Maritime team will deploy in late May to connect with non-profits and transport supplies.

Finally, the Governor also established the New York Stands with Puerto Rico Rebuilding and Reconstructing Committee. Co-chaired by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman José Serrano, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, the Committee will consist of additional elected officials, members from across private industry, philanthropy, the non-profit sector, labor and academia. It will shape and direct the various recovery and rebuilding efforts that New York has launched to help our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters recover and rebuild.

The committee is in formation and initial members include:

  • Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Co-Chair      
  • Congressman José Serrano, Co-Chair    
  • Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, Co-Chair             
  • Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Co-Chair
  • Senator Martin Dilan  
  • Senator Gustavo Rivera  
  • Senator José Serrano    
  • Assemblymember Carmen Arroyo
  • Assemblymember Maritza Davila
  • Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa
  • Assemblymember Erik Dilan
  • Assemblymember Victor Pichardo
  • Assemblymember Phil Ramos     
  • Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez
  • Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda
  • Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
  • New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres
  • New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca
  • Robert Mujica, Director of the Division of the Budget   
  • Roberta Reardon, New York State Labor Commissioner   
  • Gil Quiniones, NYPA President and CEO
  • Rose Rodriguez, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of Labor 
  • Héctor Figueroa, 32BJ President
  • George Gresham, 1199SEIU President
  • Dennis Rivera, Former 1199SEIU President
  • George Miranda, Teamsters Joint Council 16 President & President of Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus
  • Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
  • Louis J. Coletti, Building Trades Employers' Association President & CEO
  • Jill Furillo, New York State Nurses Association Executive Director
  • SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson
  • Edwin Meléndez, Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College
  • John Mogulescu, Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs and Dean, CUNY School of Professional Studies
  • Felix Matos Rodriguez, President, Queens College
  • Havidán Rodríguez, President, University at Albany
  • David Gómez, President, Hostos Community College
  • Tonio Burgos, President, Tonio Burgos and Associates
  • Seth Lugo, New York Mets Pitcher
  • Jeff Wilpon, New York Mets COO and Partner of Sterling Project Development
  • Richard Browne, Managing Partner, Sterling Project Development
  • Marlene Cintron, President, Bronx Overall Development Corp
  • Nick Lugo, President and CEO, NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Fernando Ferrer, Co-Chairman, Mercury Public Affairs, LLC
  • Elizabeth Velez, President, The Velez Organization
  • Ralph Paniagua, Founder, Atlantino
  • José Calderón, President, Hispanic Federation
  • Cesar Perales, Co-Founder of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund   
  • Carol Robles-Román, Co-President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women's Equality
  • Victor Martinez, Chair and Co-Founder, Diaspora for Puerto Rico, Inc.
  • Peter B. Gudaitis, Executive Director and CEO, New York Disaster Interfaith Services, Chair of New York Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
  • Elisa Morales, Executive Director, Spanish Action League
  • Lucy Candelario, Executive Director, The Belle Center
  • Sonia Martinez, President, Mohawk Valley Latino Association
  • Raul Russi, CEO, Acacia Network
  • Maria Elena Girone, Former President & CEO, Puerto Rican Family Institute
  • Marta Moreno Vega, Founder of Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
  • Hilda Rosario Escher, President and CEO, Ibero American Action League
  • Bishop Angelo Rosario, Bronx Clergy Task Force, Church of God's Children
  • Bishop Nancy Rosario, Bronx Clergy Task Force, Church of God's Children
  • Caryl Stern, President and CEO, UNICEF USA
  • David Campbell, All Hands and Hearts
  • Bill Keegan, Founder and President, HEART 9/11
  • Ken Raske, President, Greater New York Hospital Association
  • Bea Grause, President, Healthcare Association of New York State
  • Kathy Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for NYC
  • Henry Kuykendall, Senior Vice President - Airport Operations, Northeast, Delta

Building Puerto Rico Back Better 
In December, Governors Cuomo and Rosselló, and members of the New York Congressional Delegation released a Build Back Better Assessment Report that called for a $94.4 billion federal aid package to rebuild a stronger, more resilient Puerto Rico. The plan identified specific sectors needing investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture and others. Together with $487 million for public safety and first response and $9 billion for long-term recovery management, the total funding need is $94.4 billion.

Governor Cuomo also established the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Working Group and released the "Build Back Better" report, a comprehensive plan with recommendations on how to rebuild and transform Puerto Rico's power system into one that it is more resilient, efficient, advanced and less dependent on fossil fuel imports that cost Puerto Ricans more than $2 billion annually. The report, created by the Energy Resiliency Working Group, identifies and recommends a total of $17 billion in power system repair, resiliency and modernization investments in Puerto Rico.

In addition, New York utility contingent senior officials are serving on the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Transformation Advisory Council, an advisory group formed to develop a long-term vision and execution plan for the transformation of the power system in Puerto Rico. NYPA's Chief Financial Officer Robert Lurie and Sanjay Bose, vice president of Central Engineering at Consolidated Edison are the New York contingent members that will serve on this council along with nine other senior energy experts.

Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort
New York has deployed more than 1,000 personnel and distributed 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state:

Personnel deployed include: 

  • More than 450 New York utility personnel, more than 50 Tactical Power Restoration experts, and 15 damage assessment experts
  • 132 National Guard Military Police
  • 125 National Guard Engineers
  • 60 National Guard soldiers
  • Four Black Hawk helicopters
  • 14 Airmen
  • 156 Volunteer Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners
  • More than 70 Port Authority personnel
  • More than 130 State Troopers
  • Five-member logistical support team from the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
  • Two Department of Environmental Conservation drone pilots

Supplies distributed includes:

  • 3 million bottles of water
  • 8 million individual baby wipes
  • 3 million diapers
  • 592,730 feminine products
  • 117,210 containers of baby food
  • 194,014 canned goods
  • 82,640 bottles/pouches of juice/sport drinks
  • 15,275 flashlights
  • 8,600 solar lamps
  • 7,310 first aid kits
  • 1,181 water filtration systems
  • More than 155,000 miles of utility cable, 7,600 splice kits 1,485 cross arms and 50 transformers for power restoration efforts
  • More than $1 million in critical medication and supplies for San Juan, Vieques, Culebra and other locations, in partnership with GNYHA and the Afya Foundation

For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico, and to learn how you can assist, please visit the Governor's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage

Additional details will be released in the coming days and weeks. If you are a student interested in potentially joining this program or a parent seeking additional details, please email Peter Velz, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Affairs.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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