BACKGROUNDER: Biden administration continues to support Hurricane Fiona response efforts in Puerto Rico

President Biden remains focused on response and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. The President has made it clear that Puerto Rico officials, first responders and everyone affected by the storm have the full support of the federal government. He approved a pre-landing emergency declaration and immediately approved the Governor of Puerto Rico’s request for a major disaster declaration for individual and public assistance. He was in regular contact with Puerto Rico Governor Pierluisi and asked FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to visit the island as soon as the hurricane made landfall.

During a briefing in New York last week with FEMA Administrator, Governor of Puerto Rico, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and other federal and local officials, the President Biden announced additional financial support for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. and pledged to support Puerto Rico in its recovery efforts in the coming weeks.

In accordance with the President’s direction for a strong and well-coordinated federal response, the administration has taken swift action to support Hurricane Fiona response and recovery efforts.

Approved a pre-landing emergency declaration and a major disaster declaration for individual and public assistance:

  • On September 18, before Hurricane Fiona made landfall, the President approved a declaration of emergency for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The declaration authorized FEMA to provide assistance for emergency measures to save lives and protect property and public health and safety and to fund emergency protective measures.
  • On September 21, President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, authorizing individual and public assistance to affected municipalities and risk mitigation.
  • On September 22, the President authorized 100% federal cost sharing for the government of Puerto Rico to support public assistance for 30 days. This will provide 100% federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures and help the Commonwealth begin its recovery without adding additional financial burden to communities struggling to recover. It also increased critical needs assistance from $500 to $700 to support individuals and families with immediate or critical needs following a move from their primary dwelling. These could include vital and vital items, such as water, food, medical support, infant formula, personal hygiene items and fuel for transport.
  • As of September 27, individual assistance has been approved for all municipalities in Puerto Rico.

Support emergency response:

  • As of September 28, there were more than 1,000 federal response officers on the ground in Puerto Rico to support operations, planning, power restoration, debris removal, and environmental search and rescue. urban. This includes more than 100 urban search and rescue personnel deployed to Puerto Rico in support of the Puerto Rico National Guard and local responders.
  • More than 450 members of the Puerto Rico National Guard conduct search and rescue operations, commodity distribution, security operations, and other response and recovery activities.
  • Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced the immediate availability of $8 million in emergency relief funds for use by the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority. The funds will cover the cost of repair work needed following flood and landslide damage to highways and bridges.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico due to the flooding impact of Hurricane Fiona. The statement gives beneficiaries of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and their health care providers and providers greater flexibility to meet emergency health needs.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service has approved a waiver for the Puerto Rico Department of Family to allow the purchase of hot foods with Nutrition Assistance Program benefits until to October 9.
  • FEMA has pre-positioned supplies on the island, including four strategically located warehouses throughout the island, over 7 million liters of water, over 4 million ready meals, over 215 generators, over 100,000 tarps , more than 28,000 plastic covers and more than 10,300 beds and other emergency supplies.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard has conducted port assessments and verified appropriate aids to navigation to ensure the safe and rapid resumption of commerce.

Accelerating the restoration of electricity in affected communities:

  • Today, the Department of Homeland Security approved a temporary, targeted waiver of the Jones Act, allowing the unloading of 300,000 gallons of much-needed diesel fuel in Puerto Rico. The Administration continues to urge all petroleum refiners to ensure Puerto Rico has an adequate supply of fuels and to use Jones Act-compliant vessels whenever possible.
  • Subject matter experts and personnel from FEMA, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working intensively with Puerto Rico officials on urgent power restoration efforts.
  • In the aftermath of the hurricane, federal responders worked to identify and assess generator needs to provide temporary emergency power to critical facilities and install generators where needed. There are now over 200 generators on the island available to support key facilities across the island.

Investing in long-term climate resilience:

  • The bipartisan Infrastructure Act provides an opportunity to make a historic investment in Puerto Rico’s infrastructure to build resilience to future climate change and extreme weather events. To date, more than $184 million has been allocated to Puerto Rico for infrastructure resilience in 2022, including $163 million in funding for the restoration of the Caño Martín Peña Canal by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
  • The bipartisan infrastructure law also includes significant investments to increase the resilience of Puerto Rico’s grid. The Department of Energy’s Power Grid Resilience and Outage Prevention Grant Program is allocating $3.7 million to Puerto Rico in 2022 to improve the resilience of the power grid against disruptive events. The Department’s State Energy Program also allocates $4.7 million to Puerto Rico to improve energy security, advance state-led clean energy initiatives and increase energy affordability.
  • An additional $38 million has been allocated to Puerto Rico in 2022 for weatherization under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. The Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families reduce household energy expenditures. Examples of weatherization include more efficient cooling systems, lighting fixtures and appliances, installing solar water heaters, and measures to reduce hot water consumption.

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