NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams is on his way back to New York City after touring hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
"This is an on-the-ground group and an on-the-ground organization," Adams said.
A day earlier, he was in Puerto Rico, visiting San Juan's emergency command center, assessing what New York City can do to help the Caribbean islands.
"People have lost everything that they own," Adams said.
Sixteen deaths in Puerto Rico have been associated with Hurricane Fiona. As of Sunday night, 45% of the island was still without power and 20% without running water.
New York City Council is looking at ways to help. Councilmembers of Puerto Rican descent want the federal government to waive the so-called Jones Act.
The federal law was established in 1920 requires all goods shipped between United States ports to be transported by U.S. vessels.
Councilmembers say a waiver will allow aid to arrive without delay.
As CBS2's Christina Fan reports, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, along with local leaders, called for federal economic relief on Monday.
"We need help for the people of Puerto Rico, not only to survive and recover, but we need to give them help to rebuild, to rebuild stronger, better, more resilient," she said.
Watch: Sen. Gillibrand calls for billions in federal relief for Puerto Rico
Gillibrand is asking for $1 billion in nutritional assistance and $2.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding. She's also introducing a bill that would allow Puerto Rico to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
"Power cut off, blazing temperatures and a lack of food. The conditions on the ground are horrific," Rep. Nydia Velazquez said.
Calls are also intensifying to modernize the island's antiquated electric grid.
Rep. Ritchie Torres, who just returned a congressional trip, is adding to the chorus of voices.
"The federal government has to leverage every tool at its disposal to cut through the red tape and rebuild the grid, even if it has to play a more hands-on role," he said.
So tragedy won't strike again the next time a storm hits.
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