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Emergency Declaration for Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona Hits

The announcement comes as the Government Accountability Office testified that Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused billions of dollars in damages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017, and that the recovery from these disasters continues.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the Government of Puerto Rico to supplement the local government’s response efforts to the emergency conditions resulting from then Tropical Storm Fiona, now a Hurricane, beginning on September 17, 2022, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to support the Government of Puerto Rico and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to save lives, protect property and public health, safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of this event in all 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico.

“As Puerto Rico faces the effects of Hurricane Fiona, we have received approval of the Federal Emergency Declaration by President Biden, which activates FEMA to work with our administration to effectively respond to damages caused by the storm. I thank the Biden-Harris Administration and FEMA for this support now and always. We will continue to collaborate with all federal agencies to assist our people. I reiterate our call to all citizens to remain at home protecting their lives until the weather improves,” said the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro R. Pierluisi.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75% federal funding.

Emergency protective measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Flood fighting
  • Emergency Operations Center (EOC) related costs
  • Emergency access
  • Supplies and commodities
  • Medical care and transport
  • Evacuation and sheltering
  • Search and rescue
  • Use or lease of temporary generators
  • Childcare
  • Safety inspections
  • Animal carcass removal

“This emergency declaration allows FEMA to assign missions to other federal agencies to support and fulfill emergency needs during incident operations following a declaration,” said Robert Little III, who has been designated as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response and recovery operations in Puerto Rico. Additional designations may be made at a later date.

The announcement comes as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified that Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused billions of dollars in damages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) in 2017, and that the recovery from these disasters continues. As of August 2022, FEMA has awarded about $32.2 billion and $304.8 million for two grant programs that fund recovery projects. GAO told Congress that as of August 2022, the governments in Puerto Rico and the USVI had spent about $7.7 billion of the funding. About $1 billion of that spending was for permanent work projects that support long-term rebuilding of damaged infrastructure such as schools, the power grid, and water systems.

Read the announcement at FEMA

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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