ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a second trip to Puerto Rico Thursday to ferry supplies and personnel to the storm-ravaged U.S. territory and, upon his return, criticized the federal response as slow and insufficient.
The Democrat said conditions on the island remain “deplorable” and noted that 80 percent of residents remain without power and almost a third have no access to clean drinking water more than a month after Hurricane Maria hit.
“You have to wonder If you had a state in the United States that went 36 days without power what kind of reaction you would have,” he told reporters, moments after disembarking. “People would be outraged. People tend to forget that Puerto Ricans are Americans. They deserve a better response than what they’re getting.”
Cuomo, considered a possible White House contender in 2020, stopped short of blaming Republican President Donald Trump by name, saying he was only evaluating the results of the recovery. He said the lack of water and power was putting additional lives at risk.
“The result, the product, I think is unacceptable,” he said. “Effort is nice. Results are important.”
New York state announced Thursday it was sending 28 additional utility experts to assist in the restoration of electrical power, along with a team of accountants to help residents file federal recovery assistance applications. Cuomo also said the state would pledge $1 million in clean water funds to help pay for water filtration systems.
Cuomo flew to Puerto Rico on a donated Delta flight. On the return trip the plane brought back police officers, nurses and other New Yorkers who had been helping with the recovery over the past few weeks.
The state already has sent several tons of supplies, 1 million bottles of water as well as hundreds of personnel, including members of the New York National Guard and state police, utility experts and port officials.
New York state is home to the largest number of Puerto Ricans of any state. New York City has about 700,000 people of Puerto Rican descent — making up about 1 in every 12 city residents, and roughly twice the population of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan.