Gov. Rick Scott has “reaffirmed Florida’s commitment to supporting Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria,” according to a Tuesday news release.
Scott “has notified the Florida National Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to be on standby for deployment following an official request for assistance from Puerto Rico, and the Florida National Guard is already actively assisting Puerto Rico with organizing and submitting relief requests,” it said.
Further, the governor “is asking Florida state colleges and universities to allow students displaced by the storm in Puerto Rico to be offered in-state tuition.”
More than 3.4 million U.S. citizens there still lack adequate food, water and fuel five days after Maria pounded the island as a Category 4 hurricane.
Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, a Democratic candidate for governor, has twice called on Scott to “make Florida’s National Guard units not currently assisting in Florida available to help Puerto Rico’s rescue and recovery efforts.”
Hurricane Maria has created a “humanitarian crisis” on the island, said Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello, who asked the federal government to provide more search-and-rescue and other resources. Six Democratic state lawmakers also sent a letter to Scott, asking him to offer more help.
The governor said he spoke with Rossello and FEMA Administrator Brock Long “before the storm made landfall last week to let them know that Florida stands ready to assist in any way possible throughout the recovery process.”
“The heartbreak that our friends in Puerto Rico are enduring following this devastating storm is unimaginable and our prayers are with every family who calls this beautiful island their home,” Scott said in a statement.
“… Last week, I also had the opportunity to meet with Puerto Rican evacuees at Florida International University’s shelter and I was moved by their stories of strength and their determination to quickly return to and repair their homes,” he added. “Their resilience after this tragedy is an inspiration to us all and Florida is proud to stand with Puerto Rico during this challenging time.”
The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.