Meriden officials, the local community and federal lawmakers are once again standing by to assist family and friends in Puerto Rico, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island Tuesday and another 5.9 quake that struck the same general area of the southern coast Saturday.
Much of the island is without power and continues to experience aftershocks. President Trump has signed an emergency declaration.
As they did after the devastating Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017, people in Connecticut have reached out. After Maria, several hundred island residents moved to the state and city to escape power outages, crumbling roads and infrastructure, and food and supply shortages.
Connecticut and Meriden can be proud of their reactions to these disasters, but the need is still great.
"We just contacted my family in Narajito, Puerto Rico," said state Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden, after the first quake. … “They don't have any electricity. “… It's reminding them of what happened with the hurricane and wondering what will happen next. ...”
Santiago is in contact with advocates from Casa Boricua de Meriden and St. Rose Church to help people connect with family members and gather resources. She is also keeping people informed on the status of $8.3 billion in federal disaster recovery money that had been approved by Congress in response to the destruction by hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Adding to the burden of islanders is the fact that much of the hurricane aid has not yet been released. Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Connecticut, has pledged to fight for resources.
Meriden City Councilor Miguel Castro has family on the southern and central coast. "There are small towns with people sitting out in the dark," Castro said. “… Concrete housing has collapsed and some of the houses made of simple materials after the hurricane are gone."
Castro is in contact with members of the Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus to discuss a strategic plan to assist the island, he said.
"We have the economic ability to ensure 3.4 million people receive resources," Castro said. "If there isn't a political will, we will make one."
The prompt response of these local and state officials shows that our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico have not been forgotten in this time of need.