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Troopers arrive in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic for Hurricane Fiona relief efforts

The White House said 300 federal first responders already reached Puerto Rico as of this week


Photo/Stephanie Rojas via AP

By Tim Balk
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Gov. Hochul said Monday that New York would send drones to the Dominican Republic and more than 100 state troopers to Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona’s driving winds and rains crushed the Caribbean.

Hochul said the support commitments came after Puerto Rico’s Gov. Pedro Pierluisi asked for Spanish-speaking cops to help citizens navigate the destruction. The storm left most of the island without power.

“We’ll have over 100 troopers from the New York State Police Department on their way to Puerto Rico over this next week,” Hochul said at a news conference in Midtown Manhattan. “As the need continues to arise, we’ll be ready to offer other resources and support.”

The Category 1 hurricane turned its wrath to the Dominican Republic on Monday, drenching the nation one day after sapping the power of more than 1 million customers in Puerto Rico.

The storm was expected to continue to lash the Dominican Republic into Monday night. Hochul said New York’s drones would help the country conduct damage surveys, but did not specify how many drones the state would provide.

The White House said more than 300 federal first responders had reached Puerto Rico by Monday evening.

President Biden told Pierluisi in a phone call on Monday that a significant surge in reinforcements would arrive in the coming days, according to a White House statement.

Mayor Adams said that New York City’s emergency response teams were monitoring the situation and that an initial group would visit Tuesday to assess the damage.

“We call Puerto Rico our sixth borough, and as Hurricane Fiona leaves behind a path of destruction, our administration stands ready to provide all of the support and aid our brothers and sisters need,” Adams said in a statement.

Fiona’s center was over the northern coast of the Dominican Republic around 11 a.m. on Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center, but the hurricane had begun its drift over the Atlantic Ocean by mid-afternoon.

Disastrous flooding was ongoing in Puerto Rico, the weather service said. Devastating mudslides and landslides were feared both in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Forecasts predicted that the storm would curl to the northeast after departing the Dominican Republic, strengthening on its way toward Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas.

The storm is not expected to reach New York. But Hochul promised that her state would support Puerto Rico “for the long-term recovery.”

“We have experience with our own hurricanes now. I hate to say it,” the governor said, referencing devastating downpours from Hurricane Ida that left 18 dead in New York last year. “We are more experienced in hurricanes than we ever thought we’d be.”

Hochul said she spoke to both Pierluisi of Puerto Rico and President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

In the Monday news conference, Jackie Bray, New York’s commissioner of homeland security and emergency services, said Puerto Rico was “still in the middle of doing a damage assessment.”

She said that Puerto Rico requested two rounds of 100 troopers available for two-week stretches each, and that the New Jersey State Police would also send troopers to the island.

Bray and Hochul both emphasized New York’s willingness to enhance its contributions if requested.

“No one works harder at helping others than New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “So I’m really proud that we can be there to assist not just Puerto Rico but the Dominican Republic.”

New York State is home to about 490,000 people born in the Dominican Republic and around 245,000 people born in Puerto Rico, according to census data.

“I know people want to hear about the well-being of their friends and family,” Hochul said. “New York State will do everything in our power to help them.”

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