Over a year after Hurricane Maria, relief to Puerto Rico still mired in administration delays

It has been almost a year and a half since Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths and widespread catastrophic damage, but the Trump administration continues to drag their feet on providing every last bit of assistance to the American commonwealth.

So far, the commonwealth has identified 7,505 rebuilding sites and delivered 4,792 reports to the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking major repairs. Only 67 projects are proceeding, according to Puerto Rico’s government. In a similar period after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the last U.S. hurricane approaching Maria’s magnitude, more than 9,000 were underway.

Bloomberg reports that of the $371 million designated for restoring infrastructure and facilities, only $35 million has actually been paid out, a result of FEMA, rather than local officials, holding total control over those disbursements. This is contrary to how rebuilding efforts are handled in other disaster zones, but Puerto Rico is not a state—and the Trump administration has been uniformly antagonistic towards the commonwealth, both before and after the disaster.

This has resulted in federal aid trickling out at a fraction of the rates aid was distributed after similar disasters in Texas and Florida. Given the lack of administration urgency, it doesn’t look like most of the rest of that promised aid will be coming anytime soon.

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