How the Federal response continues in Puerto Rico
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón thanked the federal government for its continued efforts in the recovery of Puerto Rico, including, among many, the call by the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, for the American people to continue to contribute to the recovery of communities affected by recent natural disasters; as well as the most recent disbursements of FEMA funds to municipalities and public entities and the increase in care for dialysis patients.
“I will continue to work to continue bringing together federal resources through each agency and through Congress. The White House response has been key in opening up many of these grants under more flexible terms. This Saturday we will continue with the Congressional visits, this time with a bipartisan House delegation including Congressman Sean Duffy and members from New York, Florida and Pennsylvania,” said the Resident Commissioner.
The White House has released a video spot in which US First Lady Melania Trump urges people to continue to contribute to relief efforts for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“The President and I have witnessed firsthand the compassion and commitment of Americans as friends, neighbors, and strangers continue to volunteer time and money to help one another following the recent hurricanes. Your help is still needed. Donate to an organization of your choice, and volunteer to help your fellow Americans. Visit NVOAD.org to learn more about how you can help and visit Ready.gov to learn more” said the first lady in the announcement.
Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) allocated $ 5,275,000 to various municipalities in the Island, $ 1,000,000.00 to the Puerto Rico National Guard and $ 171,200,000 to the Electric Power Authority for recovery work.
These funds were awarded following the Disaster Declaration issued for Hurricane Maria on September 20 by President Trump, under the Public Assistance program which per Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Act allows disbursement of federal funds to carry out emergency measures for repair, replacement or restoration of public property. These funds fall under the Emergency Category which has two subdivisions: Category A for debris removal and Category B for emergency protection measures.
In addition, she pointed out that the municipality of Arecibo was granted $1,275,000.00 for emergency protection measures, since in its preparation and response to the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria it had used municipal labor, equipment, materials and rented equipment, to carry out emergency protection measures that continue in an attempt to eliminate immediate threats to lives, public health and safety. FEMA also approved $ 1,500,000 to the Municipality of Cayey for debris removal and $ 1,500,000 for emergency protection measures under the same concept.
FEMA had already previously announced various funding approvals for the Electric Power Authority to continue operating, one of $42,800,000.00 and another for $128,400,000.00; in both cases to purchase the fuel needed to provide immediate power to hospitals, water pumps and other critical facilities.
On her part, the national Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, described as one of her agency’s top priorities the care of dialysis patients in Puerto Rico after the ravages of Maria.
When the generator failed at the dialysis facility on the island municipality of Vieques off Puerto Rico, CMS staff and stakeholders worked together to arrange the helicopter transfer of patients to other facilities. Once patients were being cared for, the staff urged that the delivery of a replacement generator to help keep the Vieques Dialysis Center operating be made a priority, and monitored the status of the replacement generator and arrangements for the patients of the facility, to ensure access to care continues uninterrupted.
CMS reported that it has been working with these partners through its staff and contractors deployed across the Island to reopen and keep working the 48 dialysis centers in Puerto Rico, which requires close coordination with the Incident Response Coordination Team (IRCT) to communicate with the providers through conference calls to determine their specific needs.