San Juan mayor attacks Trump administration decision to stop aid to Puerto Rico: ‘There are children without food’

Nearly half a million people in Puerto Rico remain without power

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 31 January 2018 21:08 GMT
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Ms Cruz was in Washington to attend the President's first State of the Union
Ms Cruz was in Washington to attend the President's first State of the Union (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Four months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is shutting down its operations on the island. And the mayor of San Juan says that it is a premature decision.

“While I’m standing here with you, there are children without food in Puerto Rico,” Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told NBC on Tuesday while visiting Washington for President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union.

“During all the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, there’s been a feature of the Trump administration, and that is that they take away the aid before it’s done,” she continued.

The agency has said that it believes the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided after they provided more than 30 million gallons of water, and nearly 60 million meals across the island.

All of FEMA’s remaining supplies will be handed over to Puerto Rican government sources, who will continue to distribute that aide.

But, as FEMA retreats from its crisis response operations, nearly half a million people remain without power, some still do not have running water. The agency has said that its internal analytics suggest just 1 per cent of the island is still in need of emergency food and water.

“The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal,” Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA’s director for Puerto Rico, said of his agency’s decision to end operations.

FEMA has provided more than $500 million worth of Maria-related assistance in Puerto Rico since the hurricane battered the island and destroyed infrastructure. That has allowed emergency responders to make headway in their attempts to rebuild downed power lines, crumbled bridges and roads, and other necessary features of life on the island.

There has also been an additional $3.2 million worth of unemployment assistance that has been given to residents of the island whose jobs were impacted by the storm.

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