Trump approves disaster declaration after Puerto Rico’s brush with Irma
SAN JUAN – Aiming to complement recovery efforts following the historic passage of Hurricane Irma over Puerto Rico’s North East coast, President Donald Trump signed Sunday a federal disaster declaration. With this aid, the local government will continue to work with federal authorities on impacted areas.
“We have worked with Governor [Ricardo] Rosselló throughout the response operation and will continue to support the Government of Puerto Rico during recovery efforts,” said the designated federal coordinator for affected area operations, Alejandro De La Campa.
Trump’s declaration opens the door for the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra to be eligible for the Individual Assistance Program, which provides federal grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding is also available to the commonwealth and to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Irma in Culebra and Vieques. Funding is also available on a “cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures throughout the commonwealth,” the White House’s statement reads.
In response to the action of the U.S. president, Rosselló thanked the “rapid response to address the emergency situation,” while stressing that the federal government’s help will “advance the recovery of the island” and “American citizens residing in Puerto Rico.”
Another benefit of the disaster declaration allows municipalities on the island–including Loíza, one of the most affected by Irma–to be eligible to apply for assistance from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to prevent or reduce threats to life and property.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week.