Agency ending support following Hurricane Maria
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that it will halt food and water aid for Puerto Rico on Jan. 31, 2018 following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Businesses have gradually begun to reopen following the wreckage, and FEMA believes the situation is no longer an immediate humanitarian emergency. Since the hurricane struck last year, FEMA has provided approximately 30 million gal of potable water and roughly 60 million meals to Puerto Ricans affected by the tropical storm.
The burden will now fall entirely on the Puerto Rican government to provide emergency supplies for its citizens, though FEMA will hand over its remaining supplies in the area.
The decision is being met with ire from some, claiming the withdrawal is premature as one third of residents still are without electricity, but FEMA’s internal analysis says otherwise.
“The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal,” said Alejandro De La Campa, director for FEMA in Puerto Rico. “If we’re giving free water and food, that means families are not going to supermarkets to buy. It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico.”
The elimination of free food and water from FEMA does not mean their efforts are done, however. This marks a transition away from the emergency response phase, and the agency will continue to aid in long-term recovery efforts.
FEMA has approved more than $500 million in response to Hurricane Maria to date, a sum that has been allocated to direct individual aid, government and nonprofit organizations.