U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was in Puerto Rico today to meet with local residents and get a firsthand look at several areas still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria.
The visit was Nelson’s fifth to the island, and third since the storm.
Nelson, who has been an outspoken proponent of providing Puerto Rico additional funding to help the island recover from the hurricane, started the day by meeting with Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Housing Fernando Gil Enseñat in Carolina to get a firsthand look at a recently completed, federally-funded housing project. Local officials thanked Nelson for his help in getting Congress to approve the funding needed for the project.
After seeing the type of work being done to provide additional housing for residents on the island, Nelson headed to Las Piedras, one of Puerto Rico’s most underdeveloped areas where up to 30 percent of the town still does not have electricity after the storm.
“This is unacceptable,” Nelson said about the conditions in Las Piedras. “It’s been eight months since the storm, and we will continue to fight to ensure Puerto Rico is treated the way it should be.”
Before leaving Las Piedras, Nelson got a firsthand look at one of Tesla’s solar energy projects in Barrio Montones. The pilot project, which began in March 2018, provides electricity to 12 homes on top of a mountain that would not otherwise have electricity following the storm. Nelson’s visit to see the solar project comes just days before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is set to hold – at Nelson’s request – an oversight hearing on the island’s ongoing power woes in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The hearing will be held on May 8.
After visiting with residents in Las Piedras, Nelson met with Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and First Lady Beatriz Rosselló. Nelson expressed his condolences for the nine Puerto Rican Air National Guard members lost this week when their C-130 crashed in Georgia. Nelson and Rosselló then headed to Guaynabo to announce a new housing initiative that will solidify housing for dozens of Puerto Rican families.
Finally, Nelson visited Caño Martín Peña Ecosystem Restoration Project to get a firsthand look at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ project to clean out the once-navigable channel that’s now clogged with debris. Now blocked, the clogged canal poses a serious health threats to the nearly 26,000 residents who live in nearby communities as untreated sewage entering the canal is unable to properly move through it.