Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in fall 2017, FEMA has been providing emergency supplies of food and water to the island. But the agency has announced that aid will end at the end of the month.
In a sign that FEMA believes the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided, on Jan. 31 it will, in its own words, “officially shut off” the mission it says has provided more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals across the island in the four months since the hurricane. The agency will turn its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing.
FEMA says that “its internal analytics suggest only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water,” according to NPR.
But not everybody agrees that Puerto Rico is ready for the aid to stop. NPR spoke to Mayor Carmen Maldonado of the heavily impoverished inland town of Morovis, who said something like a third of her citizens are still getting food and water from FEMA. She puts that down to the fact that 80 percent of residents still don’t have electricity: “In municipalities like this one, where families are going out to work just to buy gas to run a generator, it becomes very hard,” Maldonado explained, “because money they would use to buy food they’re instead using to buy fuel.”
A grim image, indeed.