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March 20, 2018

DeFazio, Thompson, Pallone: Six Months After Hurricane Maria, Federal Recovery Still Lagging Behind

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long on the delays and challenges that continue to frustrate the federal response and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico six months after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria. In the letter, the Ranking Members highlight three primary concerns following an oversight trip to Puerto Rico last month:

  1. Puerto Rico has been treated differently than other areas affected by natural disasters, including an unheard-of 43-day wait for a disaster declaration for permanent Public Assistance.  This disparate treatment is slowing recovery.
  2. Over 100,000 businesses and families still don't have electrical power and are not scheduled to receive service until April or May.
  3. FEMA’s questionable vetting of contractors, and entering into contracts without competitive bidding or to contractors with no Federal contracting experience, has delayed relief to thousands of Puerto Ricans.

Ranking Members Thompson, Pallone, and DeFazio released the following statement on the letter:

“Six months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and knocked out power and water to the island, the federally coordinated response and recovery effort is not where it should be. After facing the devastation of the storm, Puerto Ricans then had to face the slow pace of aid and apparent indifference from the Trump Administration. Despite the fact that more than 100,000 businesses and families are still without power, Puerto Rico does not seem to be a priority for the federal government. Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico are strong and able, but we must do more to help them recover.” 

Link to Letter

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(DeFazio) Bayley Sandy at 202-225-4472
(Pallone) CJ Young at 202-225-3641