Blumenthal urges better federal storm relief effort
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., saw first-hand the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico last year, and he’s hoping the federal government has a stronger response to the most recent storm in Florida.
“The thousands of deaths that resulted from the inadequate federal response (in Puerto Rico) highlight the need for agencies like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to do better,” he said Friday at Americares headquarters in Stamford. “The federal government must do better in Florida and the Carolinas than it did in Puerto Rico, and hopefully it will. We need to demand that it will.”
Blumenthal visited Americares to show support for the organization, one of the world’s leading nonprofit providers of donated medicine and medical supplies.
At the event, he spoke of the increased severity and frequency of storms that have battered the East Coast in recent years.
“These mega storms, superstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes are becoming the new normal,” he said. “Science shows that these storms are becoming more severe. The one in 100 storm is now becoming one in 10 years or one every year.”
Kate Dischino, Americares vice president of emergency programs, echoed those sentiments.
“The frequency and severity (of storms) are absolutely increasing, and so immediate response is so critical,” she said, from inside Americares’ 50,000square-foot distribution center, which houses large collections of cellophanewrapped boxes ready to be shipped to places in need.
Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, killing at least 13 people and causing major damage to the region. Americares has been in Florida since Wednesday, conducting assessments and offering assistance to residents.
Dischino said the work in the aftermath of Michael will be “a long-term recovery effort,” but the shortterm focus is on meeting the health needs of survivors.
“We know that residents who were forced to evacuate quickly many times leave important medicine to treat conditions,” she said.
Americares responds to about 30 disasters every year.
The organization has active response teams working in Indonesia, Haiti, the Philippines, India, and in the Carolinas after each region was hit with natural disasters. The organization delivered more than $2.5 million of aid to the Hurricane Florence recovery effort in the Carolinas.
Americares relies on public support and private contributions. For more information, visit americares.org.
“For anyone who is watching the devastation in Florida and wondering, ‘What can I do?’ the answer is Americares and other organizations like this one,” Blumenthal said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., speaks at a news conference at the Stamford headquarters and distribution center of Americares, one of the largest nonprofit providers of donated medicine and medical supplies.