March 4, 2010

U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Calling Attention to Natural Disaster on Madeira Island, Portugal

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today passed a resolution expressing support for the people affected by last week’s natural disasters on Portugal’s Madeira Island. The resolution was introduced by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), John Kerry (D-MA), and Scott Brown (R-MA).

On February 20, 2010, a powerful storm hit Madeira Island causing a series of devastating flash floods and mudslides, which killed 42 people and displaced hundreds. United States officials continue to work to ensure the safety and well-being of approximately 400 U.S. citizens on the island. Rhode Island and Massachusetts have vibrant Portuguese-American communities, with over 400,000 Portuguese-Americans currently living in the two states.

“The recent natural disasters in Portugal, Chile, and Haiti were devastating. But I am grateful to the many Rhode Islanders who offered support for those in need and am pleased the U.S. government has made significant contributions to the rescue and relief efforts,” said Senator Reed.

“Rhode Island has long enjoyed a deep connection to Portugal,” said Senator Whitehouse. “My thoughts and prayers, as well as those of Rhode Island’s over 100,000 Portuguese-Americans, continue to be with those who have suffered and are still suffering from this terrible catastrophe.”

“Massachusetts is proud its long-standing historical ties to the people of Madeira,” said Senator Kerry. “With their seafaring and cultural traditions, Portuguese-Americans have enriched the Bay State beyond measure. I am fortunate to be married to a woman who takes great pride in her Portuguese heritage. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Madeira as they work to overcome this disaster and rebuild their island paradise.”

“A tragedy like this reveals the strength of the bonds that exist within communities,” said Senator Brown. “In this case, the bonds are very strong as Massachusetts owes a good deal of its history to the contributions of Portuguese-Americans. We offer thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families, and our full support in their time of need.”

The resolution passed today mourns the loss of life and expresses condolences to those killed and injured by the storm. It also expresses solidarity between the people of the United States and Madeira and applauds rescue efforts in response to these devastating floods and mudslides.

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