FEMA Says It's Not Ending Food Aid To Puerto Rico Just Yet

The agency previously said aid would end on Jan. 31.
Posted at 8:34 PM, Jan 31, 2018

FEMA says it will continue providing food and water aid to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico despite previously saying it would end it on Jan. 31.

Local FEMA Director Alejandro De La Campa told NPR supplying food was hurting Puerto Rico's economy because it meant people weren't shopping. But on Wednesday, the organization said the Jan. 31 cutoff date "was mistakenly provided."

FEMA said it would continue aid after Monday's announcement prompted bipartisan backlash.

"Its unconscionable and it's a travesty," Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said on the Senate floor.

He continued, "I urge the administration to reverse this disastrous decision immediately and to continue providing the people of Puerto Rico with the help that they need as they are trying to recover from two disastrous hurricanes."

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told USA Today: "There are still a lot of people that wonder why we are giving foreign aid to Puerto Rico. You have to remind them, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and its residents are U.S. citizens."

Many felt the decision to cancel aid seemed especially premature given the speed of the island's recovery.

Thirty percent of the island still doesn't have electricity, and some people are still without reliable sources of food and clean water four months after Hurricane Maria.

FEMA says it's working on handing off aid distribution duties to Puerto Rican authorities, but it hasn't yet finalized its plans.