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Wed Nov 27, 2019, 07:09 AM

FEMA's Hurricane Aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Has Stalled

Source: New York Times

FEMA’s Hurricane Aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Has Stalled

Two years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma, records show the agency’s work on long-term recovery on the islands is crawling compared with some states on the mainland.

By Mark Walker and Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Photographs by Christopher Gregory

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands — More than two years after back-to-back hurricanes ravaged this tropical island, medical workers are still treating gunshot wounds in hallways and kidney failure in a trailer. They ignore their own inflamed rashes that they say are caused by the mold that has shut down an entire hospital floor below a still-porous roof.

At least they have a hospital. The lone medical center on Vieques, an idyllic island that is part of Puerto Rico, was severely damaged by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, then abandoned to wandering roosters and grazing horses. Ailing people wait at the ferry dock to catch a boat to the mainland.

Two years on, “we are in the same situation as we were in the days after the hurricane,” said Rafael Surillo Ruiz, the mayor of Yabucoa, on Puerto Rico’s hard-hit eastern edge.

An examination of Federal Emergency Management Agency data and records demonstrates the degree to which the recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma on America’s Caribbean islands has been stalled compared with some of the most disaster-prone states on the mainland, leaving the islands’ critical infrastructure in squalor and limbo. FEMA officials say 190 long-term recovery projects have been funded in Puerto Rico — out of more than 9,000 requests. On the United States Virgin Islands, about 218 projects had funding — out of more than 1,500 requests and still counting.

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Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/27/us/politics/fema-hurricane-aid-puerto-rico-virgin-islands.html

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