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Darren Soto lands in Puerto Rico

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, the first congressman of Puerto Rican heritage from Florida, just landed in San Juan within the hour.

“I am heading to the Emergency Operations Center to get a helicopter tour of the Island and to meet with local elected officials,” the Orlando Democrat said.

Many news reports have cited villages and rural areas completely cut off following the direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

“There is obvious devastation including major building damage. Roads still have debris blocking, and most trees have their leaves blown off,” Soto said. “I saw hundreds of containers still at the port with few trucks to transport them.”

The administration has said that relief efforts are working well and on time while some island officials said that relief has been slow, disorganized and not getting to the rural, isolated areas. Soto said he is there to observe and find the needs.

His 9th Congressional District has a large number of Puerto Rican voters. Those with Puerto Rican heritage also make up a large percentage of the Hispanic voters in Florida, which may become larger if the number of citizens on the island keep their promises to move to the mainland U.S.

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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