Gov. Murphy establishes Puerto Rico relief commission

Posted: Updated:
TRENTON -

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he wants to help Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order on Monday in Jersey City establishing a commission aimed at offering relief to Puerto Ricans in the state and on the island.

He says the state has seen about 30,000 people from Puerto Rico relocate to New Jersey since the September storm devastated the island.

Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz says that many of the Puerto Rican residents have come to her city.

“Families that are now placing their children in our schools, looking for a place to live,” she says. “We have families that are arriving with needs, especially now that they’ve lost everything on the island.”

Diaz praised Murphy’s new order, which establishes an 18-member commission on relief. The order authorizes the commission to tap into state departments to acquire data, personnel or other assistance to carry out its mission.

Murphy says that that the goal of the commission will be to work with federal agencies to help those who are still on the island and help Puerto Rican residents who moved to New Jersey complete their schooling and receive FEMA benefits. It will also make a push to restore power on the island and send volunteers to help.

“We cannot let our fellow Americans down. This is what we do as New Jerseyans and I am proud to take this step today,” Murphy said.

Murphy said that New Jersey has one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the nation. He criticized the federal response to the disaster, calling it "insufficient."

A report on the commission's findings is due within 90 days.

Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy visited the island to tour the devastation and meet with Gov. Ricardo Rossello in December.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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