The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded more than $500 million for survivor assistance, emergency work, and debris removal following hurricanes Irma and María, officials announced Sunday.
More than $114 million has been distributed to individuals for housing assistance and critical needs. More than 800,000 survivors have registered for various types of disaster assistance throughout Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities. The Small Business Administration has approved more than $2.3 million in disaster assistance loans.
On Sunday, FEMA Coordinator Michael Byrne offered details about the $500 grant the agency is giving to most Puerto Rico residents to cover the cost of buying food after the storm — which has left most of the island in the dark for the better part of the last month — saying the agency is being “as compassionate as possible” to help as many people it can on the island. (PLEASE REFER TO VIDEO ABOVE.)
In addition, more than $384.2 million in public assistance has been awarded for funding to state and local organizations to perform emergency protective measures such as use of temporary generators, flood control, conducting safety inspections, and debris removal.
Assistance includes more than $215 million to the Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority, and $70 million to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority to perform repairs to aid in the restoration of power and water services to Puerto Rico’s estimated 3.5 million residents.
The remaining $99.2 million in public assistance funding was awarded to multiple public and qualifying nonprofit organizations.
Private nonprofit hospitals, schools, and utility providers, and non-critical organizations such as community centers, day cares, and shelters may be eligible for public assistance, and are encouraged to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the government of Puerto Rico, the agency stated.
Individuals and households in Puerto Rico can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585.
FEMA teams are also on the ground meeting face-to-face with disaster survivors and helping with registrations. To achieve that, it has opened recovery centers in Humacao, Mayagüez and Ponce.
These centers serve homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of Hurricane María.
Specialists from the government of Puerto Rico and municipalities, FEMA, the SBA, nongovernmental organizations and the local community, are on hand to help survivors register for assistance, answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors.
Services are provided in English and Spanish.