By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden plans to announce more than $60 million in aid to help Puerto Rico during a visit on Monday to survey damage as the island grapples with the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.
The president has pledged the U.S. government's firm 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 on his departure from 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.
Biden will announce more than $60 million in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law "to shore up levees, strengthen flood walls, and create a new flood warning system to help Puerto Rico become better prepared for future storms," a White House official said on condition of anonymity.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and first lady Jill Biden will accompany him on the trip to Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.
"Our hearts, to state the obvious -- it can't go without saying -- are heavy from the devastating hurricane and storms in Puerto Rico, Florida, and South Carolina," Biden said on Saturday night at an event in Washington.
"We owe Puerto Rico a hell of a lot more than they've already gotten," he said.
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 said via Twitter on Sunday 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.
Residents of the island in 2017 accused then President Donald Trump of being slow to dispatch aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Gareth Jones and Sandra Maler)