The federal government will bankroll all storm recovery efforts in Puerto Rico for a month, President Biden announced Thursday, as the island continues to reel from Hurricane Fiona’s direct hit last weekend.
“I’ve authorized 100% — 100% federal funding for debris removal, search and rescue, water restoration and shelter and food for the whole month,” the president told reporters at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional headquarters in downtown Manhattan before a closed-door storm briefing.
Biden was joined for the briefing at FEMA’s 1 World Trade Center offices by Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul, both of whom allocated city and state resources for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico earlier this week.
Hochul’s administration dispatched 100 state troopers to the island, while Adams has sent a smaller team of emergency responders, including members of the NYPD, to help out.
Hochul and Adams did not speak during the brief public portion of Thursday’s meeting.
Biden said it’s incumbent on his administration to have Puerto Rico’s back, given that many residents of the U.S. territory still haven’t fully recovered from 2017′s Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
“To the people of Puerto Rico who are still hurting from Hurricane Maria five years later, they should know that we are with you,” he said. “We’re not going to walk away. I mean it.”
Fiona struck Puerto Rico with tremendous force on Sunday, dumping upward of 30 inches of rain over the course of hours, leaving entire sections of towns submerged in water.
The storm also knocked out electricity across Puerto Rico, and many parts of the island remained without power Thursday. Four Fiona-related deaths have been reported on the island.
The storm has also slammed into the Dominican Republic and was on track to hit Bermuda late Thursday.
Fiona is not projected to hit New York but could bring life-threatening surf and rip tides locally over the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to barrel out over Nova Scotia and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada on Saturday or Sunday, projections show.
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