The president of the United States, Joe Biden, will announce during his visit to Puerto Rico this Monday more than 60 million dollars in funds for projects that mitigate flooding in the event of hurricanes on the island.
These funds, awarded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, are intended to secure levees and strengthen flood walls in the US Commonwealth, according to a White House official.
They also seek to create a new flood warning system to help Puerto Rico prepare for future storms, after Hurricane Fiona left large areas flooded on September 18.
Biden, on his first official visit as president to Puerto Rico, will also announce a new all-US government effort, led by the Department of Energy, to make the island’s power grid more secure and resilient. .
Fiona damaged more than half of the transmission lines and distribution feeders, causing a general blackout on the island, where nearly 10% of the population is still without power two weeks after the hurricane.
Biden’s arrival at Mercedita International Airport in the southern city of Ponce is expected at 2:00 p.m. local time (6:00 p.m. GMT). He will be informed of the damage caused by Fiona and will visit the Centro Sor Isolina Ferré Aguayo school.
Accompanied by the first lady Jill Biden, they will meet there with families and community leaders affected by Hurricane Fiona, which has caused at least 25 deaths.
In Ponce, they will participate in a community service project to package food and essentials and thank federal and local officials who have assisted in recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The president will also receive an update on recovery efforts on the island, which, when Fiona hit, was still in the process of rebuilding from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria five years ago.
The Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Deanne Criswell, will accompany the President and First Lady on this trip.
Since taking office, Biden has made it a priority to support Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery and increase the island’s ability to withstand future storms, the White House official said.
Last February, the Biden-Harris administration released $1.3 billion so Puerto Rico can protect itself against future weather disasters and removed certain restrictions that restricted the island’s ability to access nearly $5 billion in additional funds for recovery and reconstruction.
The damage caused by Hurricane Fiona has not yet been quantified, although the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, described it as “catastrophic”, requesting the declaration of a major disaster from Biden, who approved it.
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