Mayor Kenney participates in exchange in Puerto Rico
On Wednesday, Kenney joined several other mayors of mainland U.S. cities to meet and talk with mayors of Puerto Rican cities to discuss continued recovery and resilience efforts on the island.
As a new hurricane season draws closer, Puerto Rican residents and lawmakers are still seeking new ways to recover and fortify their cities after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
The new Mayor Exchange intiative, funded by the Open Society Foundations, allows mayors of mainland cities to exchange ideas and forge connections with mayors of Puerto Rican cities in an effort “to connect local leaders with experience in dealing with disaster recovery on the mainland with their counterparts in Puerto Rico working to rebuild,” according to information on the website.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will be in Puerto Rico through Thursday, meeting with mayors of different cities on the island and exchanging information about disaster preparedness, resilience, recovery, and more.
“I look forward to meeting Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and learning about the progress made in San Juan, as well as the recovery challenges that remain,” said Kenney in a press release on Wednesday. “Puerto Rico has been through so much in the past eight months, and it’s important for local leadership and residents to know that the City of Philadelphia is committed to supporting their recovery. I also appreciate this unique opportunity to collaborate with and learn from all the participants who understand the unique challenges mayors face.”
Other leaders involved in the initiative the importance of connection and collaboration for building resilience and strengthening recovery efforts on both the mainland and the island.
“The federal government has let our neighbors languish in darkness, dislocation and despair. We are better than this,” said Open Society Patrick Gaspard in a press statement. “I am thrilled to see so many mayors eager to share their knowledge and experience with their counterparts on the island. This kind of collaboration reminds us what we are capable of, when we set politics aside, reach out our hands and help each other.”
The initiative will also allow for Puerto Rican mayors to visit mainland cities, and in all will include the participation of around 40 mayors. Gaspard joins New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Puerto Rico mayors Pedro García Figueroa of Hormigueros and Javier Jiménez Pérez of San Sebastian in chairing the program.
“In New Orleans, we know what it’s like to suffer through a disaster,” said Mayor Landrieu on the Open Society Foundations' website. “When New Orleans has been in need after devastation, people from all over have helped lift us back up. This Mayor Exchange allows us and other cities around the country to return the favor. We are eager to do what we can to lean forward and help our neighbors stand back up. Sharing our path to recovery is an important step we can take to make every city more resilient in the face of disasters.”