ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he saw “breathtaking” devastation in Puerto Rico Friday during a one-day visit to bring supplies, assess damage and show support for the island territory following Hurricane Maria.
The Democrat said New York would do all it can to assist Puerto Rico as it seeks to recover. Cuomo made a similar visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands last week following Hurricane Irma.
“These people need a lot of help. We have to remember they’re American citizens,” Cuomo said Friday night after arriving back in New York City “They’re not going to be able to repair it on their own. They’re gonna need help and they deserve help.”
The state also will send 60 members of the National Guard and four Black Hawk helicopters, along with 50 state troopers. In addition, Cuomo said his delegation was bringing more than 34,000 bottles of water, nearly 10,000 ready-to-eat meals, 3,000 canned goods, 500 flashlights, 1,400 cots, blankets and pillows and 10 electrical generators.
During his tour of the island Cuomo said he saw hundreds of homes with structural damage and widespread flooding and noted that the island’s electrical system has been knocked offline.
Cuomo said Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello asked his New York counterpart for assistance. He flew on a donated JetBlue aircraft that officials said was the first flight to depart for San Juan since the storm.
“Anything this state can do for Puerto Rico, we will do,” he said earlier Friday. “Whatever resources, whatever need they have, this state will be responsive.”
It’s the second time in a week that Cuomo has traveled to the Caribbean to survey storm damage and offer messages of support. His promise of 130 New York National Guardsmen and state troopers to help the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma was delayed because of Hurricane Maria.
The visit fueled speculation about Cuomo’s interest in running for president in 2020, talk that the governor dismissed, noting that residents of the Virgin Islands cannot vote for president.
“If you’re running for president there are a lot of other places to go,” Cuomo said on WNYC radio. “Like Florida.”