Biden to announce $60M to bolster flood protections in Puerto Rico




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-03 09:02:00Z
  • By Politico
 

President Joe Biden will visit the hard-hit Ponce region of Puerto Rico on Monday and announce more than $60 million in funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law to build up the island's defenses against future storms.

The funding will aim to shore up levees, strengthen flood walls and create a new flood warning system to better prepare Puerto Rico for future storms, according to a White House official.

At least 25 deaths have been linked to Hurricane Fiona, which hit the island Sept. 18.

The president and first lady Jill Biden will visit the municipality of Ponce, which was one of the regions most devastated when Hurricane Fiona dropped 20 to 30 inches in the southern and southwestern parts of the island. About 14 percent of customers in Ponce had not had their power restored as of Sunday evening, according to LUMA Energy, the private company managing the island's power grid.


LUMA said 92 percent of its 1.5 million customers on the island have had their power restored although residents in restored areas report the power continues to cut in and out. The biggest ongoing power loss remains in the Mayagüez region, where 32 percent of customers were without power as of Sunday evening.

Mayagüez and Ponce are not expected to be fully restored until Tuesday through Thursday.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will join the president, who will be briefed on ongoing recovery efforts.

The Biden administration released $1.3 billion for Puerto Rico to protect against future disasters in February 2021 and removed "onerous restrictions" imposed by the Trump administration on the island's ability to access nearly $5 billion in additional funds, including for reconstruction and recovery after Hurricane Maria, according to the official.

Activists have criticizedthe Biden administration for not initially including all of Puerto Rico in President Joe Biden's declaration of a major disaster, as well as what they say was a slow flow of federal aid to communities that experienced catastrophic flooding. But they also have praised the Biden administration for some of its pre-storm preparation and mobilization for Fiona compared to the response of the Trump administration to Maria, which caused an estimated 2,975 deaths in the weeks after the 2017 storm made landfall on the island.

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