TRENTON — New Jersey is gearing up again to help with hurricane recovery as the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates came together to support a new charitable group to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Volunteers from the NJ chapter of the American Red Cross in Puerto Rico (American Red Cross)

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Connolly said two missions are being put together in response to Gov. Chris Christie's call for the Air National Guard and the OEM call for plans to help Puerto Rico.

"One mission to the Virgin Islands through the EMS task force is a work in progress. It includes the emergency medical task force and is complimented by members of State Police and members  of Disaster Terrorism Branch Human Human Services," Connolly said.

The other involves the National Guard working with the Department of Defense to deploy a mission to Puerto Rico through a mutual aid agreement with other states to offer other states.

Neither mission has yet been given the green light.

Connolly said the state continues to offer Florida and Texas with their recovery missions. A member of Human Services is helping with donations management in Texas and another from Treasury is in Florida. Two members of NJOEM Public assistance unit are in Puerto Rico.

Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov Guadagno put aside their political differences on Wednesday and issued a joint statement in support of New Jersey for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, which is organized by the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey and leaders of New Jersey's half-million-strong Puerto Rican community.

The group calls it is a "one stop a one-stop source for people to donate directly to island-based charities. The fund is transparent and focused on delivering immediate, targeted aid." The group is working with the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico and others to get immediate aid to the people of Puerto Rico.

“New Jerseyans coming together to do whatever is necessary and possible to help those in need shows the very best of our state," Murphy said. "Together, we can make a difference, and can help Puerto Rico and its people begin to rebuild not just their island, but their lives.”

“People from all parts of New Jersey, no matter their ethnic background or political slant, understand that this relief fund will be an enormous benefit to thousands of struggling Americans who live in the commonwealth," Guadagno added.

The group is encouraging cash donations instead of things that require sorting, boxing and shipping expenses. "Cash donations to nj4pr.org allow reputable organizations, such as the New Jersey for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, to strategically support professional disaster relief agencies," the group said.

The NJ Chapter of the American Red Cross has sent 13 volunteers since Maria struck and had people already there for Irma relief.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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