President Biden Pledges Millions to Help Puerto Rico Recover from Hurricane Fiona

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On Monday, October 3, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Puerto Rico. He will announce details of his spending plan to help the island rebuild and recover from Hurricane Fiona. The $60 million in assistance comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will be used to repair levees and strengthen flood walls. The funds will also go towards the creation of a flood warning system.

The president will be accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden and Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Bidens will be meeting with families impacted by the storm in addition to taking part in a community service project and thanking officials who are helping to repair the damage.

President Biden has removed restrictions put in place by the Trump administration to make it easier for Puerto Rico to access relief aid rather than more complicated. These funds total almost $5 billion designated for recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Fiona landed in southwestern Puerto Rico on September 18, bringing 113 mph wind gusts and torrential rain. One gauge measured 31.34 inches of rain which triggered floods and landslides. The storm caused a power outage across the island, resulting in multiple blackouts. Even days after the hurricane struck, over a million people still did not have gas or electricity. 

The loss of electricity also meant that more than 760,000 people had limited or no water service. In the hard-hit Ponce region, the Puerto Rican government reports that thousands of residents still do not have power. As President Biden made an Emergency Declaration before Fiona made landfall, the U.S territory will receive full government assistance. This includes aid from FEMA as part of a coordinated federal response.

Following his visit to Puerto Rico, President Biden is slated to be in Florida on Wednesday, October 5. Here, he will assess the damage from Hurricane Ian and current recovery efforts. While Fiona struck Puerto Rico as a Category 1 hurricane, Ian roared into the Fort Myers area as a devastating Category 4. 

Like the residents of Puerto Rico, thousands of people in Florida still do not have power or clean drinking water. Both locations have suffered catastrophic damage and are looking at a long, arduous recovery.

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