CHICAGO (CBS) — Back from a trip to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Congressman Luis Gutierrez called the situation “disgraceful,” living conditions “inhumane” and demanded more action from the U.S. government.
Gutierrez did highlight the positive work that was done on the trip, however, saying “we delivered good stuff. Fresh fruit — things that really bring a little joy and a little smile to people’s faces.”
The congressman spent most of his time Sunday morning showing the crowd at O’Hare International Airport videos and pictures of the devastated island. He did also blast the response from U.S. officials.
“You see that?” Gutierrez asked while showing one of several pictures. “That’s his neighbor coming to him to give him a sandwich and a cup of coffee. So first responders in Puerto Rico are your neighbors.”
Gutierrez urged his colleagues in Congress to make similar visits.
“We have to counteract this false narrative that is out there and is being promoted by the President of the United States. Just last week, he gave himself a 10 out of 10. But I’m telling you, I brought the pictures, I visited.”
For Gutierrez’s departure last Wednesday, he had at least two suitcases and a large box of supplies he was personally bringing to his family in Puerto Rico. He also had $60,000 donated to help hurricane victims.
“I’m paying for my own ticket, and the transportation. We’ve just got a car rental, and so we’re keeping the overhead to nothing. So every dollar that people have contributed is a dollar that’s going to be spent actually delivering food and medicine,” he said.
The congressman said he’ll use the entire $60,000 to purchase emergency supplies like water, nutritional drinks, diapers, and more; and have it trucked to two mountain towns. Gutierrez said he also had an additional $15,000 in cash to distribute to different towns.
The congressman plans to visit the island for a third time with mattresses and clean water and for the Puerto Rican people.