Puerto Rico relief efforts need CEO, Schumer says

Sen. Charles Schumer and Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Jose Serrano called on President Donald Trump Sunday to appoint a “CEO” to speed up and organize ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

In the month following Maria, the politicians said there has been no direction when it comes to relief efforts. Roughly 80 percent of the island is without power, 49 people are dead and 27 percent of residents still do not have access to clean water.

“To just look at the situation you know something is askew, something isn’t working,” Schumer said.

The “CEO of Response and Recovery,” would act as a direct line between the White House, Congress, the governor of Puerto Rico and various federal agencies who are on the ground on the island. He or she would be tasked with making sure the island’s utilities and cleanup efforts move more quickly, and would give the president the most up-to-date info, according to Schumer

Although FEMA has been providing support on Puerto Rico since the Sept. 20 storm, Schumer said the agency is short-handed.

“First they have Texas and Florida. They have the wildfires out west, and they are overburdened,” he said.

The senator noted that the tri-state area had a similar figurehead during Superstorm Sandy, Shaun Donovan, who helped the initial recovery plans move more efficiently. He added that he would provide the president with some suggestions for the CEO.

Representatives from the White House and FEMA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Last week, President Donald Trump gave his administration a “10” for their Puerto Rico recovery efforts, which drew heavy criticism.

“It is clear the response to Maria has been ineffective, slow and weak,” Velazquez said.

Serrano agreed and urged the president to turn things around by appointing the CEO and putting the individual to work immediately.

“We don’t need paper towels thrown at people,” Serrano said. “What we need is a coordinated effort.”


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