LEADERSHIP WANTING: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Says Mapp Wanted Only 25 Linemen From Mainland To Restore Our Electricity
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that Gov. Kenneth Mapp wanted to bring down only 25 linemen after two debilitating Category 5 hurricanes struck the territory.
Bloomberg said Thursday that he told Mapp that he should start out with at least 1,000 linemen to bring electricity back to St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.
“But then we sent down a bunch of people who worked on Hurricane Sandy who got with the governor (Kenneth Mapp) and the governor there and somebody had said: ‘Look, I need help.’ And Governor (Kenneth) Mapp. I think it’s M-A-P-P. And he said: ‘Tell me what to do.’ And so we helped them write contracts. We helped them … he wanted to hire 25 linemen to put the power back. We said: ‘No.’ And we got a thousand linemen from around America to fly down there. They took out the old poles and the old wires and they put in the new stuff and they did it in a way so that it would last.”
NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhle said that she asked Bloomberg what his role was in the recovery of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“What I did was help get people who knew what they were doing to go down and help,” Bloomberg said. “What happens in a disaster is there is a federal government organization—FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency—which provides money. They do it reasonably well, in decent amounts and reasonably fast, but it does take a little bit of time. And at the beginning people are screaming: ‘Where’s the money?’ It takes a few weeks. That was our experience in New York with Hurricane Sandy, and it was the experience down there.”
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BLOOMBERG: What FEMA doesn’t do is give the local governments the expertise on how to spend the money. So you saw in Puerto Rico they hired a company that had two employees in Whiteface, Montana —
NBC’S RUHLE: Whitefish.
BLOOMBERG: Whitefish, Montana, to come in. You can’t do that. You have to have people who know who to hire and how to manage them. And so what we did is we went down and day one we brought some medicines from Johns Hopkins and doctors and people and whatever. But then we sent down a bunch of people who had worked on Hurricane Sandy and who got with the governor and the governor there was somebody that said look I need help. Governor Mapp — I think it’s M-a-p-p — and he said tell me what to do. And so, we helped them write contracts. We helped them – he wanted to hire 25 linemen to put the power back. We said no. We got a thousand linemen from around America to fly down there. They took out the old poles and the old wires, they put in the new stuff and they did it in ways that will last. And that’s what is missing when we have these disasters around the world. The world can come together and provide funds, but it’s expertise that you need and management to make sure that the monies are well spent and they’re spent on the right things to ensure that whatever is fixed stays fixed.