While many will be home with their families on Thanksgiving, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick plans to be in Puerto Rico to take in the island’s recovery first hand.
The congressman’s office announced Tuesday morning that Fitzpatrick, a moderate Republican from Middletown, will fly to Puerto Rico to “inspect hurricane recovery efforts and meet directly with affected residents, as well as with government and humanitarian professionals on the island.”
On Thursday, Fitzpatrick will serve meals to residents of the American territory that sits 1,000 miles from Miami. He will also help Doctors Without Borders as they deliver medical supplies to the storm-ravaged towns of Oricovis and Albonito.
“The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are American citizens and this Congress and the Administration must commit to supporting them following the devastation of Hurricane Maria; each deserve the full attention of the federal government and the attention of its representatives,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement before his departure. “I am eager to meet with residents, first responders and government officials to get a full picture of the situation on the ground. It is my hope that this mission will provide clarity to help direct the actions of Congress, and offer lessons for responses to future natural disasters.”
The former FBI special agent turned politician sits on the congressional Homeland Security Committee that oversees Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their response to the natural disaster in Puerto Rico.
On Monday, FEMA officials said there were 15,000 federal employees and military service members on the island assigned to recovery operations to repair damage from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Roughly 46.6 percent of electrical customers have had their service restored and 84 percent of gas stations have reopened.
Some officials and residents on the island have called out the government’s response to the disaster in the day and weeks since. President Donald Trump has defended his administration’s “great job” and told reporters “everybody watching could be very proud of what has taken place in Puerto Rico.”