SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello expressed thanks Wednesday morning at San Juan’s international airport to a brigade of 15 Puerto Rican rescue workers who will assist with recovery efforts in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The group is being coordinated by Abner Gomez, director of the Puerto Rico State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management (AEMEAD), and consists of five firefighters, a paramedic from the Puerto Rico Medical Emergencies Corps and nine volunteers and personnel from the agency’s municipal offices.
Rossello expressed thanks to the rescue team, whose members have experience with search and rescue efforts in collapsed structures and with aquatic rescue.
“The people of Puerto Rico stand in solidarity with the residents of Texas and with the thousands of Puerto Rican families who live there. I want to express thanks to this expert brigade for their commitment. No doubt their experience in these types of emergencies will help with the rescue and recovery following the passage of this weather phenomenon,” the governor said.
Rossello said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had also expressed his gratitude for the Puerto Rican brigade.
Around 155,000 Puerto Ricans live in Texas, most of them in Tarrant, Dallas and Denton counties.
Rossello on Tuesday signed an executive order authorizing the dispatch of humanitarian aid services to Texas and the use of up to $25,000 from an emergency fund to finance the cost of travel, food and other expenses related to the brigade’s mission.
Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines is covering the cost of transporting the suitcases and equipment of the brigade of rescue workers that will travel to flood-affected areas after arriving in Dallas.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center warned in its latest complete public advisory on Harvey, which is now a tropical storm that is moving inland over southwestern Louisiana, about continued severe flooding in Houston and other areas.
Large swaths of Houston, the United States’ fourth-largest city, are underwater and thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in the wake of Harvey, which barreled into southern Texas last Friday as a major Category 4 hurricane.
“The threat of heavy rains has ended in the Houston/Galveston area. However catastrophic and life threatening flooding will continue in and around Houston, Beaumont/Port Arthur, eastward into southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week,” the NHC said at 1500 GMT.