By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said he would provide more than $60 million in aid to help U.S. territory Puerto Rico as he headed to the island on Monday to survey damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. The president has pledged the U.S. government’s support for Puerto Rico as well as […]
Biden announces $60 million in aid to Puerto Rico after hurricane
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said he would provide more than $60 million in aid to help U.S. territory Puerto Rico as he headed to the island on Monday to survey damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.
The president has pledged the U.S. government’s support for Puerto Rico as well as the states of Florida and South Carolina, which have also been hit hard in recent days by Hurricane Ian. Biden will travel to Florida on Wednesday.
“I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House, an apparent reference to how his predecessor, Donald Trump, handled a storm that hit Puerto Rico during his tenure.
“They’ve been trying like hell to catch up from the last hurricane. I want to see the state of affairs today and make sure we push everything we can,” Biden said.
Some residents of the island accused Trump of being slow to dispatch aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Biden made the aid announcement as he flew to Puerto Rico with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and first lady Jill Biden.
The funding will help “shore up levees and flood walls, and create a new flood warning system to help residents better prepare for future storms,” Biden said in a Twitter post.
The Biden administration is monitoring the impact of Hurricane Ian on the insurance industry, Criswell told reporters aboard Air Force One. She said last week that the damages from Ian would be catastrophic.
Storm-ravaged residents in Florida and the Carolinas alone face a disaster recovery expected to cost tens of billions of dollars.
Hundreds of thousands of people have struggled without power since Fiona hit Puerto Rico some two weeks ago.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Sunday said that power had been restored to 90% of customers on the island.
“This is an important milestone, coming just 13 days after Fiona made landfall,” she said. “While we’re grateful for this progress, we realize the work is not over. Efforts to rebuild and help those impacted will continue.”
Last week the Biden administration approved a waiver of U.S. shipping rules to address Puerto Rico’s immediate energy needs.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Gareth Jones, Sandra Maler and Mark Porter)