San Juan Mayor on FEMA Cutoff: 'There Is Need Still'

Members of Congress implore agency not to halt aid to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2018 9:45 AM CST
FEMA's Plan to End Aid to Puerto Rico Draws Complaints
In this Oct. 19, 2017, file photo, workers from the Electric Power Authority repair distribution lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico.   (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File)

FEMA's plans to halt hurricane relief supplies to Puerto Rico effective Jan. 31 drew criticism Tuesday from members of Congress and the mayor of the island's largest city. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said many people in the US territory need the water and food they've been getting from FEMA more than four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, per the AP. The mayor said that in recent days, officials have had to deliver powdered milk and water to some parts of the island, where about 35% of the population still has no power. "There is need still," she told reporters in Washington, where she was attending President Trump's State of the Union address as a guest of New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

A letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long signed by 30 members of Congress said the plan to end deliveries of food and water Wednesday would especially hurt people in remote parts of Puerto Rico. "Many Puerto Rican localities still face significant challenges accessing basic needs, and FEMA has played a critical role," the letter states, per the Orlando Sentinel. "Now is not the time to remove this life-sustaining assistance." FEMA says it's ending the food and water shipments because private supplies are available; NPR reports that whatever FEMA-related supplies remain will be given to the local government to distribute. The agency says it distributed more than 65 million liters of bottled water and more than 58 million meals and snacks, worth nearly $2 billion.

(More Puerto Rico stories.)

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