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Tri-State lawmakers send clear message to Puerto Rico: help is on the way

NY officials say not enough was done in Puerto Rico to prep for Fiona
NY officials say not enough was done in Puerto Rico to prep for Fiona 02:17

NEW YORK -- The road to recovery in Puerto Rico will be a long one.

As Hurricane Fiona continues its march, the flooding rain is still very much an issue.

As CBS2's Kevin reported Tuesday, here at home there's a unified message: help is on the way.

The devastation on the island nation is hard to fully grasp. Five years after Hurricane Maria, it's clear not enough was done to prepare for this storm.

"Instead of getting power to the people, instead of making it a resilient grid, a locally-based grid, they're busy fighting with each other," Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

READ MOREHurricane Fiona: How to help those in need  

After Maria, the federal government invested $21 billion on the island.

"So, this is not a lack of money. Only 2 percent of the money has been spent. Two percent," Schumer said.

On Capitol Hill, senators from the Tri-State Area said there will be accountability this time, along with more aid.

"You are not alone. We are going to have your back. We have an obligation to our fellow Americans," Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said.

"This is an all hands on deck, and no finger pointing, and get the job done," New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said.

Back in New York, Attorney General Letitia James is demanding a federal investigation into LUMA, Puerto Rico's electricity supplier. In a statement, she said critical upgrades and system improvements are needed, "so that Puerto Ricans are never again left in the dark."

READ MORE2 dead as Hurricane Fiona leaves much of Puerto Rico without power   

At City Hall, nearly 1 in 3 council members have ties to Puerto Rico, which makes the tragedy there feel that much closer to home.

"Sometimes I think people forget that there is this island that is going through immense struggles in terms of recovery and that has been hit time after time," Councilwoman Carlina Rivera said.

Rivera has family on the island, but unlike five years ago, she has at least been able to make contact.

"Very very briefly. I mean, there is no power. People cannot travel," she said.

And because of that, she says it's still stressful trying to figure out the exact extent of the damage.

"Right now, there's a lot of waiting and isolation, and then there's the whole issue of the cleanup, as well," Rivera said.

Mayor Eric Adams, while calling Puerto Rico the sixth borough, said, "an initial team of New York City emergency management specialists is being deployed today to assess the damage and determine how we can best help."

And help is what many on the island are now hoping for.

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