The Trump administration on Friday announced an additional $13 billion in assistance to help Puerto Rico rebuild its infrastructure in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will award grants designed to bolster Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and spur recovery of its education system.
Roughly $9.6 billion in funding will be directed toward the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority to repair electrical substations, power generation systems and transmission lines. Another $2 billion will be used to restore school buildings and educational facilities.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced thanked Trump and the White House in a tweet confirming the funding, which she hailed as the “largest approval in FEMA history.”
The White House touted the funding as evidence of the administration’s commitment to the island.
“Today’s grant announcements represent some of the largest awards in FEMA’s history for any single disaster recovery event and demonstrate the Federal Government’s continuing commitment to help rebuild the territory and support the citizens of Puerto Rico and their recovery goals,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
The recovery efforts in Puerto Rico have been slow and at times hampered by Trump, who has lashed out at criticism over his response to Hurricane Maria.
The storm crippled island infrastructure for months, and a government-commissioned study found that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane.
Trump has questioned the death toll, claiming it was inflated to make him look bad. He has repeatedly gone after the mayor of San Juan and derided the island as “one of the most corrupt places on earth.”
Island officials have complained that aid has been slow to roll in from the administration. The Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year lifted a months-long hold on roughly $8 billion in disaster aid to help the island rebuild.
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