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Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón Provides Update on Federal Efforts

In a press release issued yesterday, Resident Commissioner González Colón, in conjunction with Federal Coordinator Michael Byrne; and Captain Eric King from the Coast Guard sector in San Juan, informed the public of federal aid for the island. At this time $626,711,526 has been used for the initial response for equipment and personnel through different instrumentalities. FEMA has dealt with 10,533 applications and issued $1.1 million for the losses after Hurricane Irma. For Hurricane Maria, around 835,206 applications and they have issued $113,256,221 to people affected.

The Small Business Administration has received 1,145 applications and has approved around $2.3 million to aid small business that were affected by Hurricane Maria. González Colón said that “My office has been working with the SBA for some informative capsules of how and where to apply to these loans, and to apply for the temporary jobs they are offering. On Monday, SBA will visit Cidra, Tuesday Canovanas, Wednesday Arecibo, Thursday San German, and Friday Guayanilla to explain the loans.”

FEMA has approved funding for the Public Assistance program under category A and B, around $372,158,410 million for Hurricane Maria, and about $12.2 million for Irma.

In an attempt to aid cattle owners, the Department of Agriculture informed that the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is allocating $12 million for 253 cattle owners with Puerto Rico license. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under various programs, allocated $71,196,895 million and the Department of Transportation $42.5 million.

The Department of Defense has around 14,655 personnel in Puerto Rico, FEMA has around 1,905 employees working around the island, and the Department of National Security has around 491.

The Department of Health and Human Services has more than 500 employees in the island with 2,000 medical services professionals; around 67 hospitals are open in their full capacity.

Coast Guard continues to be active in Puerto Rico

Captain Eric King informed that there are 567 active Coast Guard members; all 22 ports in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Santa Cruz are open. Around 85% of commercial facilities regulated by the Coast Guard, 99 of 116, are completely functional. The Coast Guard is working with FEMA in providing resources such as generators, food, water, and infant articles to affected zones such as Utuado, Canovanas, Jayuya, Rio Grande, Villalba, Humacao, Maunabo, Arecibo, Ponce, Moca, Aguadilla, Orocovis, San Lorenzo, and Gurabo.

Captain King said that “The Coast Guard continues to actively work with FEMA and the government of Puerto Rico in the efforts to aid Puerto Ricans in need.” In addition, the Coast Guard is helping restore maritime commerce, the operations and the maritime transportation system.

Members of Congress will visit the Island

González Colón informed that the next visit from members of Congress will be spearheaded by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-CT). In addition, Rob Bishop will be visiting the island in the upcoming weeks to further assess the next steps for Puerto Rico. González Colón emphasized the importance of these visits because those who have the power to move resources to Puerto Rico need to see the dire situation firsthand.

In addition to the aid already received from Congress, the Senate will vote on additional relief funding that the House passed last week. The bill will divide the funding as follows:

  • $13.77 billion for disaster management
  • $4.9 billion for Community Disaster Loans
  • $16 billion for the National Flooding Program
  • $1.3 billion for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition for Puerto Rico (SNAP).

In the upcoming weeks, the House of Representatives will look at the re-authorization of the CHIP program already approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee that would reassign $1 billion to aid Medicaid funding for next year.

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