WASHINGTON, DC— Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) released the following statement on the need for immediate federal assistance for Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria:

“In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the mounting humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico needs the immediate attention of the federal government.  Three and a half million American citizens are left in blackout conditions, while temperatures in the high 80s elevate the danger. Images on television don’t accurately represent the true destruction the island has suffered, and only the lucky few with access to generators and satellite-based internet connections are able to communicate with the outside.

“This tragedy is not happening halfway around the world, but to a US territory filled with fellow citizens to whom we owe the greatest responsibility. Millions of Americans of Puerto Rican heritage living in the United States, including more than a quarter million in Connecticut, are incredibly concerned for the safety of friends and family members. If we do not act swiftly, the devastation we have already witnessed could start to cost many lives, especially among the elderly and infirm without access to power or water.

“Congress should waive the 25% matching requirement for FEMA aid and encourage coordination between the military, hospital ships and relief agencies.  The President should immediately turn his focus to Puerto Rico and use the vast power of his office to direct immediate aid to the island. We must deploy whatever assets we have to restore power as quickly as possible. It must be our top national priority.

“The time for evaluating and improving our disaster response can come later, along with the inevitable finger pointing and politicking. We must, as a nation, find a way to help Puerto Rico regain its feet and right its economy in the long term. But today, this hour, right now, we need to save lives. That’s all that matters.”