Puerto Rico is billed to receive over $6 billion in emergency aid to prepare it for future hurricanes and other disasters. The funds were assigned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The fund is earmarked for infrastructure projects and economic development. In addition, the U.S. territory now has access to $3.2 billion. This would help rebuild from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Governor Pedro Pierluisi commented on this and praised the Biden administration for acting quickly.
$67 Billion initially assigned
Congress had assigned $67 billion to assist with rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed due to natural disasters in September 2017. Of the $43 billion earmarked for the purpose, Puerto Rico has only received $18 billion. There are also concerns about how the money would be spent.
The Trump Administration had delayed and restricted emergency aid allocated for Puerto Rico to help them recover from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. They expressed concerns about how the funds would be spent, citing allegations of corruption. Hurricane Maria killed thousands and destroyed critical infrastructure in Puerto Rico. Thousands were left without electricity, bridges and roads collapsed, and much damage was done. The valuation of the damage has been pegged at 90 billion dollars. As the island has struggled to bounce back from Hurricane Maria’s effects, there have also been occurrences of earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the white house press secretary Jen Psaki said that the President has it on his priority list to release the outstanding relief funds for Puerto Rico. “We are working to make this happen as a matter of priority.” Jen Psaki told reporters at a press briefing. Less than a third of the total amount allocated after the 2013 storm has been distributed.
Hurricane Irma was a powerful hurricane that caused great destruction in 2017. It was the first of its kind- a category 5 hurricane. It was followed by Hurricane Maria a few weeks later. As at the time it occurred, it was regarded to be the most powerful hurricane on record in the open Atlantic area. For the U.S., it was the most intense hurricane to strike it since hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was no shock that the word “Irmageddon” was formed to describe the damage caused by the hurricane.
The hurricane started from a tropical wave close to Cape Verde. It then intensified quickly into a category 3 hurricane. It caused great damage in Barbuda, Saint Martin, and other islands. At least 134 people died as a result of the hurricane.
Damage Caused by Irma
With respect to the valuations of the damage caused, Anguilla was the most hit. The damage here was about $290 million. It was closely followed by the Bahamas, with damage valued at $135 million.
The huge impact of the hurricane was partly due to the size of the storm. This meant that the destruction reached even territories far away from landfall occurrences. Hurricane Irma is the second most expensive hurricane after hurricane Maria. After the hurricane, phone lines were disconnected. This meant that some Islands were disconnected and isolated from everyone else.
The aftermath of the hurricane through the West Indies and the Caribbean was devastating to roads and airports. This greatly affected the distribution of emergency aid and relief items. The Dutch, French, and other nations sent planes with relief supplies to the area. Interestingly, some of the affected areas also sent relief materials and offered emergency aid to each other. For instance, Cuba sent health workers to some Islands in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico also assisted people who were stranded on other Islands.
- South Africa receives first Covid-19 Vaccines
- Tigray Leader Debretsion Gebremichael Speaks Out After Months