WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Joe Biden approved federal funding to cover 100% of costs for the next month as Puerto Rico recovers from Hurricane Fiona.
- The president said the costs will cover debris removal, search and rescue, power and water restoration, and shelter and food.
- Puerto Rico has not fully recovered after Hurricane Maria devastated the island five years ago, killing nearly 3,000 people.
President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the federal government would fully cover the costs related to Hurricane Fiona aid in Puerto Rico for the next month.
“I’ve authorized 100% — 100% federal funding for debris removal, search and rescue, water restoration and shelter and food for the whole month,” Biden said. “To the people of Puerto Rico who are still hurting from Hurricane Maria five years later, they should know that we are with you. We’re not going to walk away. I mean it.”
Hurricane Fiona left more than 1.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and caused catastrophic damage across the island. It dropped up to 30 inches of rain in some regions, cutting electricity and access to running water for most of the residents.
Biden announced the support at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 2 headquarters at One World Trade Center in New York City. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell sat beside Biden at the briefing.
On Wednesday, Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico. He already made an emergency declaration on Sunday before the hurricane made landfall. That declaration allowed FEMA to directly give funds to those affected for temporary housing and home repairs. It also allowed FEMA to offer low-cost loans.
Criswell traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to assess the damage Hurricane Fiona left.
“We’re laser-focused on what’s happened to people in Puerto Rico again. We’re talking almost to the day, at least to the week, five years after Hurricane Maria was devastating [the island],” Biden said. “We’re surging federal resources to Puerto Rico and we’ll do everything, everything we can to reach the urgent needs they have.”
One of Biden’s pledges during the campaign was to provide aid to Puerto Rico. He took a swipe at former President Donald Trump, saying his predecessor “made things worse” for the island with his response to Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Five years ago, Hurricane Maria devastated the island, killing nearly 3,000 people.