Blu­men­thal touts storm re­lief ef­fort

The Norwalk Hour - - NEWS - By Ig­na­cio La­guarda

“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.” Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, D-Conn

STAM­FORD — U.S. Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, DConn., saw first­hand 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 12 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.

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