Don't cut off aid to Puerto Rico too soon

FEMA has announced its withdrawing its aid mission from Puerto Rico four months after Hurricane Maria pummelled the island

FEMA has announced its withdrawing its aid mission from Puerto Rico four months after Hurricane Maria pummelled the island

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz has denounced the USA government's decision to end food and water emergency aid to Puerto Rico when almost one-third of the island is still recouping from the effects of Hurricane Maria, which shattered the island in September.

"I was hoping for some sort of apology on Puerto Rico, but I heard nothing", said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.). On Wednesday, a spokesman said FEMA was winding down its food and water deliveries in Puerto Rico, but would keep distributing both to towns in need for the time being. He did not say when the agency would finalize its plan to hand the remaining supplies over to the Puerto Rican government. At least 50,000 people from Puerto Rico have relocated to Florida in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

NPR reported on Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will "officially shut off" aid to the island, giving whatever supplies still remain to the territorial government and not resupplying them when resources run out. Despite visiting the island and signing a $36.5 billion emergency aid measure to refill disaster accounts, provide a cash infusion and bail out the federal flood insurance program, Trump has received considerable flack from Democrats and Puerto Ricans for failing to fix the island faster.

The president is expected to talk extensively about tax reform, infrastructure and immigration in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

FEMA has called the island's emergency operation the longest sustained distribution of food, fuel and water in agency history, including more than $1.6 billion worth of food and more than $361 million worth of water.

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It's estimated that 300,000 Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida to flee the ravaged island.

Islanders are USA citizens, but are barred from voting for president unless they live on the mainland. But FEMA claims only about one percent of those in Puerto Rico need the emergency water and food.

"At the end of the day, here's the bottom line: Puerto Rico is a US territory. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal", Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's director in Puerto Rico, told NPR. "We look forward to working with the Legislature to pass this important funding". As Soto pointed out, "American lives are at stake!"

FEMA said Wednesday that the agency's aid work for Puerto Rico has not changed since it began aiding the island and that joint assessments were being conducted regularly regarding response and recovery efforts.

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