President Joe Biden spoke Monday with Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi about the federal government’s support after the island territory was hit this weekend by deadly Hurricane Fiona.
According to the White House, Biden — who spoke by phone with Pierluisi from Air Force One while returning from the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II — discussed his administration’s support for Puerto Rico’s emergency and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Fiona, which killed at least one person in Puerto Rico and one person in the French territory of Guadeloupe.
The hurricane also left the entire island of Puerto Rico without power, which a major local energy company said would take days to resolve.
The White House said that Biden told Pierluisi the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Deanne Criswell, will go to San Juan on Tuesday to meet with local and state officials and affected citizens to assess urgent needs.
The White House said the president described “the surge of Federal support to the island, where more than 300 Federal personnel are already working to assist with response and recovery.”
With Puerto Rico still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria almost exactly five years ago — a disaster that led to intense scrutiny of the federal government’s response under then-President Donald Trump — Biden insisted he will ensure federal officials remain on the job to get it done, the White House said.
According to the Government Accountability Office, FEMA efforts supporting Puerto Rico after Maria were the biggest and longest in the agency’s history.
As of April 2018, $12 billion had been committed by FEMA for response and recovery.