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Biden guarantees federal funding for Puerto Rico aid

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View of a sailboat dragged to the shore by strong waves within the Bay of Samana, after the passage of Hurricane Fiona, in Samana, Dominican Republic on September 20, 2022.

Erika Santelices | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the federal government would cover costs related to Hurricane Fiona relief in Puerto Rico in full for the following month.

“I’ve authorized 100% — 100% federal funding for debris removal, search and rescue, water restoration and shelter and food for the entire month,” Biden said. “To the people of Puerto Rico who’re still hurting from Hurricane Maria five years later, they need to know that we’re with you. We’re not going to walk away. I mean it.”

Hurricane Fiona caused catastrophic damage across Puerto Rico, leaving greater than 1.4 million people without power within the immediate aftermath. The storm, which dropped as much as 30 inches of rain in some areas, cut electricity and access to running water for a lot of the island.

Biden made the announcement on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 2 headquarters at One World Trade Center in Latest York City.

The president on Wednesday approved a significant disaster declaration for Puerto Rico. That followed an emergency declaration he approved Sunday before the hurricane made landfall, and allows FEMA to offer direct payments to those affected for temporary housing and residential repairs. Under the declaration, FEMA may also offer low-cost loans.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell traveled to the island on Tuesday to evaluate damage. She sat beside Biden on the briefing in Latest York.

“We’re laser-focused on what’s happened to people in Puerto Rico again. We’re talking almost to the day, not less than 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 every little thing, every little thing we will to achieve the urgent needs they’ve.”

Providing aid to Puerto Rico was certainly one of Biden’s campaign pledges. He had said former President Donald Trump “made things worse” for the island together with his response to Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Nearly 3,000 people died on the island consequently of the storm, which left lots of of hundreds without power for months.

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