BERLIN - Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 and the island is still recovering more than two months later.
In addition to at least 55 people reportedly killed and $95 billion in damage caused by the storm, The Associated Press reported on Nov. 20 that more than 25 percent of the U.S. territory’s municipalities are still without power.
In an effort to help with post-recovery efforts, Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection deployed 13 state troopers down to the island on Monday. The group left Bradley International Airport Monday afternoon.
“With the understanding holidays are about caring, I thought it would be nice to help out,” said State Police Sgt. Alex Giannone, a resident of Berlin who is one of those troopers being deployed. “Anything we can do to help return some normalcy in Puerto Ricans’ lives is a good thing.”
The troopers will be patrolling and providing security and traffic assistance in conjunction with the local police in Puerto Rico, a release announcing the deployment stated.
“Connecticut is home to some of the bravest, brightest, and most selfless state troopers in the nation,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in the release. “I’m incredibly proud of the troopers that volunteered to assist the people of Puerto Rico in their time of need, and wish them a successful tour of duty, and a safe return home.”
Giannone, who said he has conversational Spanish speaking proficiency, will be leaving behind his wife and two children during the deployment. A member of the state police for more than 10 years, Giannone was recently elected Republican council member to the Berlin Town Council. He said he expects to return home by Dec. 14.
“We could not be more proud of the troopers who have stepped up to partner with Puerto Rico police to keep its towns and cities safe as the island continues to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” DESPP Commissioner Dora Schriro said. “The Connecticut State Police - the nation’s first state police agency - continues to demonstrate the many ways in which they are among the most community-focused police forces in the country.”
In addition to the state trooper deployment, Connecticut has 100 National Guardsmen who are performing tasks such as communications with relief organizations and greeting direct flights from San Juan at the airport.
With Associated Press reports.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @CPaullinNBH.