PUERTO RICO -- Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy is in Puerto Rico as part of an exchange program meant to help the island recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, according to city Director of Operations Alex Sutherland.
McCarthy arrived in Puerto Rico Wednesday evening, according to Sutherland. He met with Bobby Ramirez Kurtz, mayor of the Puerto Rican city Cabo Rojo, throughout the day Thursday.
City Signal Superintendent John Coluccio joined McCarthy on the trip.
Sutherland said McCarthy and Ramirez Kurtz will cover topics such as “resilient and sustainable construction practices, coordinating state and federal partners and approaches to municipal administration under financial constraints.”
McCarthy’s trip was part of an exchange program organized by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the Open Society Foundations, an international organization founded by prominent hedge fund manager George Soros.
The program partners mayors from across the country with mayors in Puerto Rican cities in an effort to help the island recover from storm damage that occurred nearly a year ago.
Ramirez Kurtz is planning to make a visit to Schenectady later this year to review the city's planning and emergency management protocols, but Sutherland said that date has not yet been determined.
“It has now been over 10 months since the devastation of Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, and many are still struggling to restore basic services,” McCarthy said in a prepared statement. “Through the exchange program, we can attempt to build relationships between mayors that will help improve their capacity, sustainability and resiliency as they navigate these challenges toward rebuilding their infrastructure.”
Sutherland said McCarthy’s trip was done at no cost to the taxpayers.
McCarthy is expected to return to the city on Friday, Sutherland said. Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens is serving as mayor pro tem during McCarthy’s absence.