Existing New York Stands With Puerto Rico Committee Will Identify And Select Memorial Commission Members

NYS Will Issue RFP/RFI Seeking Ideas, Designs, And Location For The Memorial

Executive Order Available Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed Executive Order No. 189 launching a new Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission to provide recommendations on the establishment of a new memorial honoring the victims and survivors of Hurricane Maria and the resilience of the Puerto Rican community. New York State will issue a Request for Proposals and/or Request for Information seeking ideas, designs and the exact location for the memorial in Battery Park City. The announcement comes on the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, and follows the release of last month’s George Washington University report that estimated nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans lost their lives as a result of the devastating storm.

“One year ago, Mother Nature tore through Puerto Rico claiming the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans and forever changing the lives of many more,” Governor Cuomo said. “The federal government’s failed response is a stain on American history, and I am establishing a commission to create a memorial honoring the victims and survivors of Hurricane Maria and the resilience of the Puerto Rican community. New Yorkers have always had a deep connection with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and this memorial will show that this country loves and respects our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and we will never allow what happened to happen again.”

“Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico and devastated communities one year ago today,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “New York is standing up to help our brothers and sisters rebuild and recover, after the federal government turned its back on our fellow citizens. We will never forget the thousands of victims and families impacted by the disaster, and a memorial will stand as a beacon of their bravery and strength, and signify our partnership to continue to build back the island together.”

As New Yorkers and Americans continue to mourn the lives lost, the existing New York Stands With Puerto Rico Committee will identify and select artists, leaders, academics, and performers to serve on the selection commission. The Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission will then begin its work immediately and provide recommendations to the Governor pertaining to the site, design and installation of the memorial no later than September 30th, 2019.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said, “While President Trump ignored Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Governor Cuomo’s staunch advocacy for the island will help rebuild Puerto Rico stronger than ever before. I thank Governor Cuomo for this fitting memorial and for providing a recovery effort the federal government should have provided.”

Congressman José E. Serrano said, “New York will never forget the nearly 3,000 Americans that lost their lives in Hurricane Maria. This memorial will be a fitting tribute to the victims, survivors and the resilience of the Puerto Rican community, and let it act as a reminder to never leave our fellow Americans behind in their darkest hour. Puerto Rico has a true friend, advocate and ally in Governor Cuomo and I thank him for his unparalleled leadership.”

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez said, “On the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, it is important that we reflect on the lives lost and lasting consequences of the devastating storm. While the Trump administration turned its back on our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters, New York led the recovery efforts each step of the way. I commend Governor Cuomo for this important recognition of the victims of Hurricane Maria and look forward to working together to bring a sense of closure to Puerto Ricans.”

Assemblymember Marcos A. Crespo, Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task force said, “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his steadfast dedication to providing meaningful support to Puerto Ricans on the island and displaced victims here in New York. May this memorial provide a sense of hope and comfort for the families of the victims, survivors and the people of Puerto Rico.”

New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera said, “I am humbled by this memorial to the victims, survivors, and resilience of the Puerto Rican community. Thank you Governor Cuomo for this thoughtful tribute and for your consistent commitment and dedication. I look forward to working together to taking care of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and here in New York, and always remembering those we lost.”

New York State’s Ongoing Efforts to Support Puerto Rico

Since Hurricane Maria’s landfall in September 2017, Governor Cuomo has traveled to Puerto Rico five times and has continuously directed critical resources to communities in need. In the immediate aftermath, New York established the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, ultimately distributing at least 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state. New York State also deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including hundreds of utility workers and power experts to help with power restoration and grid stabilization.

Governor Cuomo has dedicated approximately $13 million to support the more than 11,000 displaced Hurricane Maria victims living in New York. As part of the commitment, an initial investment of $2 million will go to partnering organizations who connect vulnerable Puerto Ricans to needed services such as employment, housing, benefits counseling and health care. Governor Cuomo has also committed up to $11 million dollars in housing and workforce funding for displaced Puerto Ricans: a $1 million program to provide robust case management services to displaced Puerto Ricans, and up to $10 million in job training and placement.

Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced that New York will lead the effort for displaced Puerto Ricans in New York to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and the federal government for failing to adequately respond and provide assistance following Hurricane Maria.

In June, the Governor announced that the SUNY Board of Trustees and CUNY Board of Trustees would extend in-state tuition for students displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The extension of the authorization allows students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to attend stated-operated colleges for the 2018-19 academic year at a lower cost to ease the burden as their families recover from the destruction following these natural disasters. In Academic Year 2017-2018 255 displaced students took advantage of the in-state tuition rate at CUNY colleges. While enrollment data is not yet available across SUNY for Fall 2018, 137 undergraduate students enrolled from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017-2018 Academic Year that received in-state tuition rates.

Over the summer, Governor Cuomo announced the successful completion of the summer-long NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative. Throughout the summer, more than 650 SUNY and CUNY students, as well as skilled labor volunteers, traveled to island communities still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma to provide assistance to those in need. Over the course of five deployments, volunteers logged in nearly 41,000 hours cleaning, restoring, and rebuilding homes. The goal to renovate 150 homes was far exceeded, with a total of 178 homes restored over 10 weeks.

Governor Cuomo and the New York Congressional Delegation continue to advocate for Puerto Rico to receive essential federal assistance. In December, Governor Cuomo and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, along with members of the New York Congressional Delegation, issued a Build Back Better Assessment Report. The report identified specific sectors needing investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture, and others. Together with $487 million for public safety and first response aid and $9 billion for long-term recovery management, the total funding need is $94.4 billion.

For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico please visit the Governor’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.