On September 27, 2017, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch sent the following letter to President Trump:
September 27, 2017
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
The damage wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the greater Caribbean has been devastating. According to numerous media reports, hospitals in Puerto Rico have lost electricity, with many also losing their backup generators. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Governor, Kenneth Mapp estimates that rebuilding the electrical grid could cost an estimated $200 million. The island of Barbuda had to be entirely evacuated, and Dutch St. Martin sustained damage to 90 percent of its buildings from Hurricane Irma, according to the United Nations. These and the other islands in the Caribbean will need both immediate and the long-term assistance in order to survive the immediate aftermath, and be able to rebuild.
The deployment of the USNS Comfort is a welcome development, and it is my hope that this will be followed by the swift deployment of additional resources from within FEMA, DOD and USAID to provide the assistance and expertise that the islands need.
For the longer term, the region will require a significant and sustained level of investment, given the level of the damage sustained. Given the complexity of this process of rebuilding in both the U.S. territories and in other islands of the Caribbean, I urge you to appoint as soon as possible a Special Coordinator for Caribbean Storm Relief and Reconstruction. It is necessary to have one point person who is fully responsible and accountable for ensuring the effective coordination and dispersal of immediate and long-term assistance to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to the other nations in the Caribbean.
Thank you and I look forward to working toward an effective response to this humanitarian crisis.
Stephen F. Lynch
Member of Congress