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 ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
A family wears face masks as they walk through the smoke filled streets after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura, California on Dec. 6, 2017. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

How to Protect Your Children From Wildfire Smoke

By Cecilia Sierra-Heredia

We're very careful about what our kids eat, but what about the air they breathe?

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Hero Images / Getty Images

Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental and emotional health. Now, a new global study has found that children in 27 developing nations tend to have more diverse diets and better nutrition when they live near forests.

The paper, published Wednesday in Science Advances, provides evidence that forest conservation can be an important tool in promoting better nutrition in developing countries, rather than clear-cutting forests for more farmland.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Navy torpedo bomber spraying DDT just above the trees in Goldendale, WA in 1962. USDA Forest Service

Maternal DDT Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Thursday found that mothers exposed to the banned pesticide DDT were nearly one-third more likely to have children who developed autism, Environmental Health News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Significant cupping of leaves from dicamba drift on non-Xtend soybeans planted next to Xtend beans in research plots at the Ashland Bottoms farm near Manhattan, KS. Dallas Peterson, K-State Research and Extension / CC BY 2.0

Top Seed Companies Urge EPA to Limit Dicamba

Two of the nation's largest independent seed sellers, Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed, are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to place limits on the spraying of the drift-prone pesticide dicamba, Reuters reported.

This could potentially hurt Monsanto, which along with DowDupont and BASF SE, makes dicamba formulations to use on Monsanto's Xtend seeds that are genetically engineered to resist applications of the weedkiller. Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed, as well as other companies, sell those seeds.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Baby son in high chair feeding father. Getty Images

Baby Food Tests Find 68 Percent Contain 'Worrisome' Levels of Heavy Metals

Testing published by Consumer Reports (CR) Thursday found "concerning levels" of toxic metals in popular U.S. baby and toddler food.

The consumer advocacy group tested 50 nationally-distributed, packaged foods designed for toddlers and babies for mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks to journalists outside the White House West Wing before attending a Trump cabinet meeting on Aug. 16. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Zinke Announces Plan to Fight Wildfires With More Logging

The Trump administration announced a new plan Thursday to fight ongoing wildfires with more logging, and with no mention of additional funding or climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Wangan and Jagalingou cultural leader Adrian Burragubba visits Doongmabulla Springs in Australia. The Wangan and Jagalingou are fighting a proposed coal mine that would likely destroy the springs, which are sacred to the Indigenous Australian group. Wangan and Jagalingou

Indigenous Australians Take Fight Against Giant Coal Mine to the United Nations

By Noni Austin

For tens of thousands of years, the Wangan and Jagalingou people have lived in the flat arid lands of central Queensland, Australia. But now they are fighting for their very existence. Earlier this month, they took their fight to the United Nations after years of Australia's failure to protect their fundamental human rights.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County, South Carolina. Jason A G / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Victory for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States

A federal judge invalidated the Trump administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule, effectively reinstating the Obama-era regulation in 26 states.

The 2015 rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waters can be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. It protects large water bodies such as lakes and rivers, as well as small streams and wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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