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Statement from Michael Blake on the Federal Response to the Earthquakes in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico needs us right now. Our fellow American citizens need us right now!

The devastation and destruction caused by two significant earthquakes in the past 48 hours in Puerto Rico breaks my heart and reminds us that we must develop comprehensive emergency management plans, which include mitigation measures, effective responses, and short-term and long-term recovery plans to protect our communities. We should remember the painful lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We have to take action and demand change.

1. The Trump Administration should immediately suspend the Jones Act and ease shipping restrictions, so that resources from the mainland United States can be delivered in a timely manner to Puerto Ricans in desperate need.

2. The process for applying for and releasing FEMA and other emergency funds should be streamlined to ensure that they are efficiently delivered to communities and individuals because the lives and livelihoods of U.S. citizens are at stake. To this day, Puerto Rico has not recovered from the devastating effects of Irma and Maria, largely because the Trump Administration has refused to allow sufficient FEMA money to flow to the island to help pay for the rebuilding of its infrastructure. This is unconscionable and we cannot allow it to happen again.

3. A pathway for Puerto Rican statehood should be revisited to finally end the second-class treatment of Puerto Rico and provide its residents with the economic support they need, as well as the right to vote for a president who will be accountable for Puerto Rico’s welfare.

Nearly 300,000 Puerto Ricans live in the Bronx and contribute to the resilience and vitality of our neighborhood, and for this we are forever grateful. This issue is close to home and we must work together to immediately respond both on the island and here at home to support our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters.

We are going to collaborate with the Willie Colon Foundation and the Bronx Community Foundation as entities that individuals can support here in the states, which will in turn provide donations and relief support to local groups in Puerto Rico.

We are also currently collaborating with several organizational allies who have been working on relief and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico and are considering specific ways to provide support given this latest disaster.

If you are having difficulty reaching your friends and family in Puerto Rico, please contact us at so we can notify you of various organizations that can help.

We believe in Puerto Rico. We stand in solidarity with Puerto Rico. We are one with Puerto Rico.

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