Quantcast
Popular
A citizen of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, returns home with water and food provided by FEMA on Oct. 17, 2017. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.

FEMA to Shut Off Food and Water Aid to Puerto Rico

UPDATE: Since the release of NPR report and a flood of angry reactions from politicians, FEMA said it never intended to stop giving aid to Puerto Rico and will continue to hand out supplies for as long as necessary.

William Booher, an agency spokesman, told the New York Times that Wednesday was not the actual shut off date but rather an internal planning date to evaluate if the island could still justify needing assistance. Booher also told NPR that date "was mistakenly provided."

"This aid is not stopping," Booher told the Times. "There was no, and is no, current plan to stop providing these commodities, as long as there continues to be an identified need for them."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will "officially shut off" food and water aid to Puerto Rico four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

"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 in Puerto Rico, told NPR. "If we're giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy."


"It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico. So we need to create a balance. With the financial assistance we're providing to families and the municipalities, they're able to go back to the normal economy," he added.

The remaining food and water supplies and its distribution will be turned over to the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency.

NPR reported that FEMA has distributed more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals to the island's residents to date. The agency has also approved more than $500 million in Maria-related public assistance and disbursed an additional $3.2 million in unemployment aid to people whose jobs were affected by the storm.

However, parts of the U.S. territory have struggled to recover after the Category 4 storm and want the federal aid to continue. A third of Puerto Rico is still without power. Hundreds of thousands of people still lack access to potable water.

In Morovis, a municipality with a median income less than $18,000 and where 51 percent live below the poverty line, 80 percent of residents are still without electricity, according to Mayor Carmen Maldonado.

"There are some municipalities that may not need the help anymore, because they've got nearly 100 percent of their energy and water back," Maldonado told NPR. "Ours is not so lucky."

"In municipalities like this one, where families are going out to work just to buy gas to run a generator, it becomes very hard," the mayor continued. "Because money they would use to buy food they're instead using to buy fuel."

"This is all something that FEMA should contemplate before eliminating its delivery of these supplies."

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has been highly critical President Trump and FEMA's relief efforts in Puerto Rico, was taken aback by the NPR report.

She tweeted, "This is the kind of indifference that must be stopped. Enough."

FEMA has clarified that it will still provide supplies to volunteer organizations and nonprofits in rural areas.

Eileen Lainez, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs, tweeted on Tuesday: "Our support to Puerto Rico's recovery continues. The commercial supply chain for food/water is available. However, @FEMA will continue to support documented needs that Puerto Rico identifies, & we're providing supplies to voluntary agencies/nonprofits for those in rural areas."

AmeriCorps also tweeted, "AmeriCorps members are still on the ground in Puerto Rico helping families affected by #HurricaneMaria."

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Politics
Children fishing in Tamil Nadu, the Indian region where protests took place partly over concerns of a copper smelter's impact on fish. Abhishek.cty / CC BY-SA 4.0

Police Open Fire on Pollution Protesters in India, Killing at Least 9

A protest of a controversial copper smelter in the Tamil Nadu state on the southeastern tip of India took a violent turn Tuesday when police opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least nine, Reuters reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Eagle Creek fire. Curtis Perry / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Teen Ordered to Pay $36.6 Million For Starting Oregon Wildfire

A teenager who admitted to starting the Eagle Creek Canyon wildfire in Oregon that singed approximately 48,000 acres of forest land in September was ordered to pay $36.6 million in restitution.

Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson admitted that the youngster will probably never be able to pay the total amount, but was obligated under state law to issue the full award to the victims of the massive blaze, including residents whose properties burned down and the state and federal departments that fought the fire, The Oregonian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Flickr / CC0 1.0

Shell Shareholders Vote Down Climate Change Proposal But Signal They Still Want Action

A vast majority of Royal Dutch Shell shareholders voted down a proposal calling on the company to set specific targets for lowering its carbon dioxide emissions on Tuesday, putting their faith in the company's internal plans to fight climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
NPCA Online / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Sideline 100 Miles of Construction in Virginia and West Virginia

Builders of the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline told federal authorities they will delay construction along 21 miles in West Virginia and 79 miles in Virginia until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issues a revised "incidental take statement," which limits the number of threatened or endangered species that might be accidentally killed or harmed during development activities.

Lead developer Dominion Energy filed documents Tuesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in response to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling last week. The court sided with environmental groups and their lawyers that the FWS' initial review was not clear enough in the case of the $6.5 billion pipeline and vacated one of its key permits.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Solar, coal and natural gas are prominent at the Big Bend Power Station and Manatee Viewing Center parking lot in Apollo Beach, FL. Walter / CC BY 2.0

Premature Births Linked to Living Near Power Plants

Closing coal- and oil-fired power plants may help decrease the incidence of premature births in surrounding areas, according to new research.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Lake Oahe, the source of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's drinking water. DVS / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Stopping a Dakota Access Pipeline Leak in Under 10 Minutes? A Fairy Tale, Say the Standing Rock Sioux

By Susan Cosier

Nine minutes. That's the longest it would take to detect a leak and shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) should the crude oil within begin escaping into the North Dakota prairie or the Missouri River. At least that's what Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the pipeline's owner, says. It's a claim that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe calls completely unrealistic given the company's "inadequate" emergency response plan.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced construction of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement project in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 10, 2016. Marc Chalifoux / Epic Photography for the Government of Alberta, CC BY-ND 2.0

How Enbridge Helped Write Minnesota Pipeline Laws, Aiding Its Line 3 Battle Today

By Logan Carroll

The Minnesota section of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline accounts for nearly 300 miles of the longest crude oil transport system in the world, and it is failing. The multi-billion-dollar transnational corporation has applied for a permit to replace it. Opposition from tribes in the region and environmental groups is slowing the project, but the process at times appears so tilted in Enbridge's favor that, watching the court battles and utility commission meetings, it almost feels like Enbridge wrote the rules.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Human activity, including domesticating livestock, has had a major impact on earth's biomass. Malcolm Morley~commonswiki

Humans and Big Ag Livestock Now Account for 96 Percent of Mammal Biomass

A first-of-its-kind study published Monday shows that, when it comes to impacting life on Earth, humans are punching well above our weight.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first ever comprehensive census of the distribution of the biomass, or weight of living creatures, across classification type and environment. It found that, while humans account for 0.01 percent of the planet's biomass, our activity has reduced the biomass of wild marine and terrestrial mammals by six times and the biomass of plant matter by half.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!