As Atlantic Hurricane Season Looms, Congress and Trump Administration Must Release Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Dollars

By Oxfam

Ahead of the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, María Concepción, Oxfam America Program Manager for Puerto Rico, made the following statement:

“Nearly two years since Hurricane Maria, the deadliest hurricane in modern U.S. history, struck Puerto Rico, it is outrageous that the vast majority of disaster recovery dollars that were allocated have yet to reach the island.

As communities watch the skies as a new hurricane season approaches, they grapple with the fact that the island’s infrastructure is fragile, crumbling, and unprepared for future storms. The power grid is unreliable, thousands of people still reside under tarps instead of roofs, infrastructure has not been fortified to stand up to high winds and flooding, and clusters of the island are on the brink of losing water in another storm. Countless Puerto Ricans have yet to receive a penny of the billions of pledged recovery dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

This is inexcusable. The Trump administration’s shameful and discriminatory mishandling of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico must stop, once and for all. Congress has appropriated over $20 billion for housing, community development, and disaster recovery to Puerto Rico, yet just a paltry amount – $41,846 – of these HUD funds have actually been spent. Politics and obstructionism are stymying these much-needed and long-overdue recovery dollars.

The frightening reality of climate change means bigger, wetter, and more devastating hurricanes. As an ill-prepared and under-resourced island, Puerto Rico would almost certainly suffer were another storm to hit this hurricane season.

Puerto Ricans should not be treated as second-class citizens. It is past time for Puerto Rico to receive the aid it has been promised and still urgently needs. We call on the Trump administration to immediately release the aid dollars that are rightly for Puerto Rico, and urge Congress to exert its oversight over the Administration and demand the release of these dollars.”

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