FEMA ended Puerto Rico’s food and water aid.
In the days after hurricane maria Puerto Rico, some of the worst-hit rural residents found themselves trapped – because of the landslides, barriers and bridge collapse, the densely populated area is cut off, and fell down trees and power lines. In those early days, the only food and water in many of these communities was received from helicopters sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In the end, towns and villages dug themselves up, but there was a lack of electricity and, in many cases, water, and the need for emergency food and water remained. As a result, FEMA has been providing this service, allocating a large number of people to the 78 mayors on the island, and their staff have set up local distribution channels or door-to-door assistance.
On Wednesday, however, aid will end.
In front of FEMA think of emergency humanitarian emergency signs have subsided, January 31, it will use their own words, “officially closed” it offers more than 30 million gallons of drinking water and task of nearly 60 million meals in the four months after the hurricane. The agency will transfer the remaining food and water supplies to the government of Puerto Rico for distribution.
Given the island a third of people are still lack of electricity, water, in some places the island now some people think it is too early to end these deliveries, but FEMA says its internal analysis shows that only about 1% of the islanders are still need emergency food and water. The agency says it is small enough for Puerto Rico’s government and non-profit organizations.
“The reality is we just need to look around and the supermarket is open and things will get back to normal,” said Alejandro De La Campa, a Puerto Rican director.
The decision to stop providing assistance was part of a broader plan for the agency to transition from the island’s emergency response phase. In the coming weeks and months, the focus will be on a long-term recovery. It includes finding ways to jump-start the island’s troubled economy, he said.
“If we provide free water and food, that means families won’t go to the supermarket,” says De La Campa. “It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico, so we need to create a balance, with the financial aid we provide to families and municipalities, and they can return to normal economy.”
So far, the federal emergency management agency has approved more than 500 million dollars in public assistance related to maria, although it is unclear what local governments and nonprofit organizations direct assistance to individuals. The agency also provided $3.2 million in unemployment assistance to people affected by the storm.
‘we’re not that lucky.’
But some say puerto ricans are not ready to return to normal pre-hurricane life.
Islands in the lush, mountainous interior towns mollo weiss, Carmen maldonado said the mayor, she’s 30000 residents, about 30000 people are still in the federal emergency management agency of rations of food and water.
“Some cities may no longer need help because they are close to 100% energy and water,” she said. “We are not so lucky.”
While the government reports that nearly a third of Puerto Rican customers are still short of electricity across the island, maldonado estimates that the figure is more like 80 percent in her city.
She said, forcing many families changed their spending priorities, FEMA’s food and water aid become important lifeline, and expect her residents simply resume their normal shopping habits is unrealistic.
“Like this city, families go out to work just to buy gas generator and work, it becomes very difficult,” she said, “because they used to buy their food money used to buy fuel. ”
According to the U.S. census bureau, Morovis’s median household income is less than $18,000, and 51 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.
Therefore, even if everyone can’t afford to buy generators, maldonado said, given the need to buy hundreds of dollars spent hundreds of dollars, small consumers can consume in a day $25 to $40. Unable to afford the family faced with a more basic question: they are not able to plug in the refrigerator, which means that almost every day going to the grocery store to avoid spoiled food, an unrealistic expectations in this city, there are still some narrow winding under hurricane damage, require some residents to walk for an hour or more detours.
“This is what FEMA should be thinking about before canceling these supplies,” the mayor said.
Maldonado said she to the federal agencies to transfer surplus food and water supply plan and its distribution to Puerto Rican counterpart, Puerto Rico, emergency management agency or PREMA plans frustrated.
Maldonado said that so far, she didn’t get any from PREMA on how to continue to provide food and water for her city rations information, because the agency on January 31, assume the distribution of responsibility. The mayor said she did not expect PREMA to distribute the goods fair or effective.
PREMA spokesman Beatriz Diaz acknowledged that NPR received about the distribution of food and water supply plan email problem, but did not provide the answers to these questions, although multiple requests for more than a week.
In an email, FEMA spokeswoman Delyris Aquino said federal agencies had “provided guidance to PREMA and developed contingency plans to support any unmet needs.” But she also said that FEMA could not control how local agencies would distribute the goods after the federal emergency management agency (FEMA) was delivered on January 31.
In addition to supplies to the government of Puerto Rico, the agency will provide food and water supplies to a number of nonprofits, including the Red Cross and the salvation army, according to the President.
In the town of moroves, municipal workers continue to distribute the food and bottled water they get from FEMA every two days to the most inaccessible neighborhoods.
On a recent day, one of the teams visited a high mountain community called Barrio Pasto. Going there used to mean crossing the river by bridge. But the hurricane destroyed the bridge, so now crossing means carefully driving a portion of the concrete that is soaked in water, only to be safe if it doesn’t rain.
On this day received a tank of water and a recipient with biscuits and canned food, there was a widow Carmen MariaQuinonesFigueroa voice betrayed her under the condition of no electricity in the fifth month of rising frustration. Still, she says her biggest problem is that there is no running water.
“I don’t have enough water,” she said, adding that the collapsed bridge made it difficult for citizens to buy. Instead, she relied on her children’s visits and cases from the federal emergency management agency.
Mayor maldonado said she would continue to distribute aid to her residents as long as she accepted. When she stopped accepting, she said she had to find another way.
“Since the first day, that’s our policy,” she said. “don’t let anyone have no food or water.”