Gov. Scott returns from viewing Puerto Rico damage first hand

Response needs to be 'totally different' for island, Scott says

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

Gov. Rick Scott landed at Sanford-Orlando International Airport Thursday evening after viewing the destruction from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Scott toured relief efforts on island with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

“Thankful of @FLGovScott support of Puerto Rico,” Rossello tweeted. “Thank you for offering your team’s resources for the recovery of Puerto Rico.”

Scott spoke to reporters about his visit after landing back in Central Florida Wednesday night.

He described the situation on the island as "totally different" than Florida's hurricane damage.

"It's mountainous, there is only one road into tiny towns and the roads are washed out," Scott said.

The challenge is getting to the pockets of people with only one way in or out to their communities. Florida does not face those types of problems, Scott said.

The governor said the main challenges are communication and power. Only 5 percent of the island has power and just 28 percent of cellphones have service, Scott said.

Scott praised Rossello for his response to Hurricane Maria and said he was establishing what resources Florida could offer immediately.

“You could see how proud their National Guard was and how proud they were of their governor and how hard people were working,” Scott said.

He said the island needs diesel fuel, more than gas at this point and that's something barges can bring in. The governor is working with ports from Jacksonville to Miami to get supplies to Puerto Rico.

He has also asked all Florida universities to offer in state tuition for students from the island. Many public schools across the state are also preparing to welcome displaces students.

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