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Murphy surveys hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, pledges help

December 15, 2017

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy traveled to Puerto Rico on Friday and met with hurricane victims as he surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Maria nearly three months ago.

The Democrat visited a shelter and hospital, and also met with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello during his one-day trip. He was accompanied by his wife and 21 New Jersey leaders with ties to the U.S. territory.

Murphy said one priority for Puerto Rico is to obtain recovery funds for the island in a fair and equitable manner.

“We know that our brothers and sisters in Florida and Texas need help, but here we need as much help, if not more, than they need,” he said.

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from a Category 4 storm that hit on Sept. 20 with winds of up to 154 mph. It killed dozens of people and caused up to an estimated $95 billion in damage.

Murphy received briefings from local emergency management and health officials and met with the director overseeing Puerto Rico recovery operations for the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Murphy, who takes office on Jan. 16, pledged to keep helping the island.

“We need to find a sensible, stable fiscal reality for Puerto Rico, and you can’t do that alone,” he said. “We will keep screaming out not just about the recovery in Puerto Rico, but we are going to keep screaming out about the fact that you need help to stabilize the finances here.”

The U.S. territory is in its 11th year of recession and trying to restructure a portion of its $73 billion public debt load.

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