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Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico Unlocks Federal Assistance

FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to supplement territorial and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Fiona beginning September 17th and continuing. President Joe Biden approved the new Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico.

Orlando Representative Val Demings praised the new Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico, which will significantly expand the federal aid available to the island in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.

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:
    • A – Debris removal
    • B – Emergency protective measures
    • C – Roads and bridges
    • D – Water control facilities
    • E – Buildings and equipment
    • F – Utilities
    • G – 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.

“It is critical that we protect the health and safety of Puerto Rican Americans in the wake of Hurricane Fiona,” said Rep. Demings, who is also running for U.S. Senate against Republican Marco Rubio. “By declaring a major disaster, we can unlock significant new assistance to make families and communities whole. Five years since Hurricane Maria, I am committed to make sure that Puerto Rico has everything they need to rebuild.”

The President’s major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico makes federal funding available to affected individuals in 55 municipalities within the Commonwealth including Adjuntas, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Arroyo, Barranquitas, Bayamón, Caguas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Cataño, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerío, Corozal, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Humacao, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Juncos, Lares, Las Piedras, Luquillo, Maricao, Maunabo, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Peñuelas, Ponce, Río Grande, Salinas, San Juan, San Lorenzo, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa and Yauco.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

You can apply for disaster assistance online, by calling 800-621-3362 or by using the FEMA App. If you use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service.

Public assistance federal funding is available to the Commonwealth, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for all 78 municipalities for debris and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance.

All municipalities in the Commonwealth are also eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Thomas J. Fargione has been named the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. Additional designations may be made at a later date. Rep. Demings chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, & Recovery, which oversees FEMA.

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