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Hurricane Season 2022

Demings calls for Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico

If used, the declaration unlocks a wide range of additional federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure


On Tuesday, Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) joined Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) in a letter to President Biden to call for a Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona. A Major Disaster Declaration would significantly expand the federal aid available to the island.

On MondayI, Rep. Demings wrote to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell calling on FEMA to initiate 100% cost-share to reduce burden on Puerto Rico and speed the response.

“I’m calling on President Biden to unlock significant additional aid to protect the health and safety of Puerto Rican Americans," Demings said. "Our aid to the island must be swift and it must be complete. Our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico need our support, and we must answer. There is no excuse for our fellow Americans to suffer and wait for aid in the richest country on Earth. Hurricane Fiona is yet another blow on top of the still-ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria. It’s been five years since Hurricane Maria, and this time, we must do better.”

Rep. Val Demings
Rep. Val Demings

Letter Text

Dear President Biden,

Governor Pierluisi has formally requested a Major Disaster Declaration for all of Puerto Rico’s municipalities in response to Hurricane Fiona. We strongly urge you to approve this request to ensure Puerto Rico has all the federal resources available to respond to this disaster.

Hurricane Fiona devastated the island with catastrophic flash flooding, unprecedented rainfall, and high-speed winds. The hurricane caused an island-wide blackout, leaving over three million residents without power for over twenty-four hours. Furthermore, 750,000 homes remain without potable water. Bridges have collapsed, roads are blocked with debris, and schools are damaged. FEMA Public Assistance is urgently needed to begin restoring this vital infrastructure. 

In addition, Hurricane Fiona has caused significant flood damage to homes across the island. Many families are now seeking temporary shelter and will require significant aid in order to rebuild their homes. FEMA’s Individual Assistance is critical to assist with these housing costs and other recovery expenses.

In 2017, thousands of lives were lost in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria due to the butchered government response by the Trump Administration. In 2020, the island faced destructive earthquakes, requiring more disaster recovery resources. Five years since Hurricane Maria, LUMA and PREPA have yet to adequately repair the electrical system, resulting in continued frequent and widespread electrical outages. These events have left Puerto Rico’s critical infrastructure vulnerable to extreme weather. We urge you to help the people of Puerto Rico equitably recover from these multiple disasters and access the federal funding they urgently need. 

Given the damaged infrastructure, we urge you to promptly approve Governor Pierluisi’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for all of Puerto Rico’s municipalities in response to Hurricane Fiona."

Major Disaster Declarations

New Assistance Available Under Major Disaster Declarations:

  • Individual Assistance - Assistance to individuals and households, which may include:
    • Individuals and Households Program;
    • Crisis Counseling Program
    • Disaster Case Management
    • Disaster Unemployment Assistance
    • Disaster Legal Services
    • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Public Assistance - Assistance to State, Tribal, and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, which may include the following Categories:
    • Debris removal
    • Emergency protective measures
    • Roads and bridges
    • Water control facilities
    • Buildings and equipment
    • Utilities
    • Parks, recreational and other facilities
  • Hazard Mitigation Assistance – Assistance to State, Tribal, and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.
Rep. Val Demings, Puerto Rico, Major Disaster Declaration, Congress, Hurricane Fiona, Hurricane Maria


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