Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons joined 33 fellow senators in sending a new letter to administration officials demanding agencies expedite and better coordinate the ongoing power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The senators said the Trump administration’s current lack of coordination with local officials, clearances for crews to begin their restoration work, lack of materials and support services and a clear chain of command on the ground is threatening recovery and rebuilding efforts. The senators added the immediate restoration of power is necessary and critical to homes and hospitals as well as critical power-dependent infrastructure like drinking water and sewage treatment systems. The 35 senators that penned the letter cited that any further delays could continue to jeopardize the health and safety of residents as well as complicate efforts to build the electrical grid back stronger and more resilient to future storms.
The letter laid out demands to the heads of the Federal Emergency Management Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and said:
— FEMA and USACE, in conjunction with PREPA, must establish a clear chain of command and identify a responsible official to oversee all contracts and coordinate with local officials so that work will be as efficient and effective as possible.
— FEMA and USACE must clear crews from Fluor and PowerSecure to begin work as soon as possible, so further delays do not jeopardize health and safety.
— FEMA and USACE must work together and in coordination with the governor and other local officials to ensure the expeditious vetting and clearance of crews, materials and equipment so that they can be transported to Puerto Rico as quickly as possible, including by air if necessary.
— FEMA and USACE must work with other relevant federal agencies to submit specific legislative language requests to Congress for the next disaster supplemental appropriations bill, given that additional authorities will be necessary in order to rebuild a more resilient grid in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.