Chicago Firefighters Head to Puerto Rico to Volunteer in Relief Efforts

Nearly two dozen Chicago firefighters left the city for Puerto Rico Wednesday to volunteer in the relief efforts following Hurricane Maria.

The 23 members of the Chicago Fire Department departed from O’Hare International Airport, bound for San Juan, taking with them defibrillators, stretchers and communication equipment.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Congressman Luis Gutierrez coordinated with United Airlines to deliver supplies from the city.

Meanwhile, several Puerto Rican residents have traveled to Chicago in search of support.

As of Wednesday, an estimated 1,600 residents had traveled to the city where they connected with family in the area or were given shelter and assistance.

Trump surveyed Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. He praised his administration's response, even as lawmakers returning from the island say the president is painting far too rosy a picture.

Later this year, the White House is expected to require tens of billions of dollars more in long-term funds that would rebuild infrastructure, help people without insurance restore their homes, and, perhaps, help Puerto Rico reconstitute its shattered electrical grid.

Gutierrez recently visited the island territory, bringing supplies for his family and touring some of the hard-hit communities. He argued that coverage of Trump’s visit didn’t show the full extent of the damage.

"What you're seeing is a mirage," Gutierrez, D-Ill., said of conditions in San Juan. 

Many mountain towns remain cut off, with sick and elderly people trapped.

"I saw the video on TV and everybody's friendly and everybody's smiling. You know what? It gave the wrong impression of what's going on in the island."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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