New Jersey, New York State police officers deployed to Puerto Rico

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Sunday, September 25, 2022
Joe Torres reports from Puerto Rico
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Joe Torres reports from Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (WABC) -- Puerto Rico is getting help from the Tri-State area in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

75 troopers from the New Jersey State Police alongside 50 of their colleagues from the New York State Police are ready, willing, and able to answer the call from their law enforcement partners in Puerto Rico.

Many of the officers have been to Puerto Rico before. It is trip number three for New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Vito Flora - once for Hurricane Maria, two years ago for the earthquakes and now for Fiona.

"It definitely breaks our heart, and that is why most of us come out here. We want to help out and we are compassionate about that. We know that everybody on this island has endured devastation throughout the year," said Lt. Flora.

For the troopers, their initial assignments will largely involve a traffic detail in areas where there is still no power six days after the storm drenched the island with 72 hours of nonstop rain.

"They are resilient and genuinely appreciative of the work that we are doing out there. And they know that us standing traffic posts 12 hours a day in the hot sun is not easy," said New Jersey State Police Major Chris DeMaise.

New York State Police Major Harold Litardo says it was a very warm reception.

"It's all cultural, right? So it's heartfelt for me. I couldn't speak any higher of Puerto Rico. I was here in 2017, I'm here now and I'll come back if I have to again," said Litardo.

The Puerto Rican police give instructions to the New York State Troopers and the New Jersey State Troopers on where to go and what they will be doing. They are heading to four major Puerto Rican cities - Ponce, Mayaguez, Arecibo and Aguadilla.

Local police on the island say their efforts are greatly needed and deeply appreciated.

Luis Dias is a captain with the Puerto Rican police. He is also a New York native - born and raised on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

"When I see New York State troopers and when I see NYPD help us, we get excited - very excited - even New Jersey, too...they are welcome too," said Dias.

Personnel from the NYPD and the city's emergency management office are on the island as well. Mayor Eric Adams arrives on Sunday.

RELATED | How to help Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic during Hurricane Fiona


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