N.J. to send nearly 150 state troopers to Puerto Rico to help with Hurricane Fiona recovery

Nearly 150 New Jersey state police officers are on their way to Puerto Rico to help with recovery efforts after the island was recently devastated by Hurricane Fiona, Governor Phil Murphy announced Thursday.

Two waves of 74 troopers and a doctor will be sent to the city of Vega Baja, the governor’s office said. A 12-member group from New Jersey’s All-Hazards Incident Management Team is also expected to travel there and work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico at this devastating time,” Murphy said in a statement. “New Jersey knows all too well the devastating effects hurricanes can have on communities and we will do what we can to support Puerto Rico in times of need.”

The Category 1 storm made landfall on Sunday, causing major flooding, infrastructure damage and massive power outages.

Fiona caused an island-wide power outage when it hit the southwestern region of Puerto Rico, which has continued to recover from a series of strong earthquakes in recent years. About 62% of the 1.47 million customers were without power four days after the storm, amid an extreme heat warning from the National Weather Service. A third of customers, or more than 400,000, did not yet have water service.

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Government officials there are working with religious groups, nonprofits and others who are braving landslides, thick mud and broken asphalt on foot to provide food, water and medicine to those in need, but they are under pressure to clear a path. so that vehicles can enter isolated areas soon.

In 2017, then-Gov.-elect Murphy led a delegation to the island after it was hit by Hurricane Maria. More recently, his family was there on vacation in 2019 and Murphy met with the governor of Puerto Rico.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Matt Arco can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco.

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