New York Governor Cuomo Announces Continued Efforts to Support Puerto Rico’s Recovery from Hurricanes Irma, Maria

Members of Memorial Commission Will Solicit Ideas for Design and Installation of Memorial and Make Recommendations to the Governor

More Than 346 SUNY and CUNY Students Will Deploy to Puerto Rico Over 10 Weeks This Summer

Second Year of SUNY and CUNY’s Volunteer Service Program Sends Total of 500 Students in 2019 to Help Repair Damaged Homes

New York (STL.News) – New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced continued efforts to support Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, including the members of the new Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission and the latest deployment of SUNY and CUNY students to Puerto Rico who will continue their mission helping the island recover from the devastating impact of the 2017 hurricane season.

“While the federal government forgot an important fact, which is that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, New York State said on day one that we will stand with Puerto Rico every step of the way,” Governor Cuomo said.  “There is still work to do which is why we are bringing another 300 college students down from SUNY and CUNY this summer to help rebuild, and I’ll be going down again to work with those students.  We are also setting up a Commission that is going to commemorate Hurricane Maria and its victims.  And this September, we will announce the design for that memorial and where it’s going to be in Battery Park City.”

“Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico are still working every day to recover from the devastation that took thousands of lives and forever changed life on the island,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.  “Unlike the federal government, New York has been by the side of the people of Puerto Rico since the hurricanes hit, helping the recovery effort in every way possible.  This latest deployment of SUNY and CUNY volunteers and the Memorial Commission will continue our work to help with rebuilding and remember the lives that were lost.”

The Memorial Commission, established under Executive Order No. 189, will solicit ideas and make recommendations this September on the establishment of a new memorial honoring the victims and survivors of Hurricane Maria and the resilience of the Puerto Rican community.  It is estimated nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans lost their lives as a result of the devastating storm.  The Memorial Commission will begin its work immediately to provide recommendations to the Governor pertaining to the site, design and installation of the memorial.  The state has identified six potential locations for the memorial in Battery Park City:

  • Chambers Street Overlook: This northernmost site is just west of Stuyvesant High School, at the highest point in Battery Park City.
  • Belvedere Plaza: This site lies on the elevated northwest corner of the North Cove Marina.
  • Esplanade Plaza: This site lies on the southwest corner of the North Cove Marina.
  • North side of South Cove: This site lies on the northwest corner of South Cove Park.
  • South side of South Cove: This site lies on the southwest corner of South Cove Park.
  • North side of Wagner Park: This site lies on the northwest corner of Wagner Park near the Museum Of Jewish Heritage.

The commission will be comprised of ten members appointed by the Governor, and will be overseen and coordinated by New York Stands with Puerto Rico co-chairs Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Jose E. Serrano; Secretary of State RossanaRosado; and Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David. Members of the commission include:

  • Edwin Meléndez, Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College
  • Havidan Rodriguez, President, University at Albany
  • Elizabeth Velez, President, The Velez Organization, Resident of Battery Park City
  • Brenda Torres, Executive Director, Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary
  • Dennis Rivera, Former President, 1199/SEIU
  • Teresa A. Santiago, Chairperson, ComitéNoviembre
  • Santos Rodriguez, Director of Community Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
  • Hilda Rosario Escher, Former President & CEO,Ibero American Action League
  • Tonio Burgos, CEO, Tonio Burgos & Associates
  • Casimiro D. Rodriguez, Sr., President, Hispanic Heritage Council of Western NY

The Governor also announced the first summer deployment of SUNY and CUNY students as part of expanded efforts for the second year of his New York Stands with Puerto Rico initiative.  The Governor has already deployed 154 students during the winter and spring breaks to continue to rebuild homes damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Over the course of 10 weeks this summer, more than 346 students will deploy to Puerto Rico, fulfilling Governor Cuomo’s commitment to send 500 student volunteers in 2019.  The volunteers will work with the non-profit rebuilding organizations All Hands and Hearts, Heart 9/11 and NECHAMA to clean, restore and rebuild homes.  Students will deploy for two-week increments and may earn college credit.

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