“One year ago today, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico.
“In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Americans did everything they could to help their brothers and sisters on the island. Here in The Bronx, we collected so much for Puerto Rico that it took two days to completely pack and move all of the items off the street, and the National Guard had to be called in to assist us.
“Everyone who could help pitched in, no matter how much or how little they could give. We were sure that this would be the start of something amazing, and that our efforts were only the first step towards a rebuilt Puerto Rico.
“What did we get instead? It took eight months for power to be restored on the island, while it took just weeks in other American cities that faced similar storms. Our island’s infrastructure remains in tatters, as if the storm happened just weeks ago. Supplies that were meant to help our people remain hidden and unused, as if they were simply forgotten.
“I have been back to the island several times since the storm. With each visit, I am shocked at how slow the rebuilding process has moved. In many ways it is as if there has been no progress since last year.
“Puerto Rico needs $100 billion in relief funding, and has only received a fraction. We need to replace the island’s power and phone grids with a more stable system, and rebuild Puerto Rico’s coastline in a resilient way to fight against future storms. We need to stimulate the economy by encouraging business growth and tourism. We need to provide adequate medical services, including mental health services, and give families the resources they need to stay in their homes.
“Despite the obvious failure of the Trump Administration in Puerto Rico, President Trump has gone out of his way not only to declare that his response was a success, but also to deny basic facts about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and accuse us of using the storm for partisan gain.
“President Trump’s behavior towards Puerto Rico has been atrocious. His administration’s inability to deliver for the 3.5 million American citizens who make the commonwealth home has only exacerbated the misery that followed the storm. For one full year, Puerto Ricans have endured some of the most awful conditions one could imagine, all while President Trump pats himself on the back for a job well done.
“This is shameful. But President Trump has no shame. We have to take matters into our own hands.
“Register to vote. If you are registered, get your friends and family to register. If you have been displaced by the storm, make sure you are registered at your new address. In November, show up to vote and send a powerful message.
“We will not be taken for granted,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.