President Donald Trump announced the release on Friday of $13 billion in assistance to repair hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and pledged to restore its economy.
Hurricane Maria slammed into the island in 2017 with winds of 155 mph, causing an estimated $100 billion in damage and killing nearly 3,000 people.
The grant announced Friday includes nearly $10 billion to rebuild an electrical grid that was wiped out by the storm and resulted in the longest blackout in U.S. history.
Even now, three years after the storm, thousands of homes are still damaged. The U.S. territory of over 3 million people has also been hit by a series of damaging earthquakes and remains mired in a deep economic crisis.
Trump pledged to revitalize Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing industry, which has been in decline in part due to the 1996 repeal of tax incentives.
“I think you are going to see a rebuilding of Puerto Rico,” he said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said the Trump administration “dithered and delayed” after Hurricane Maria.
“After the storms utterly destroyed the grid, it created an opportunity to rebuild a cleaner, cheaper and more resilient energy system, but the Trump administration dithered and delayed and refused to deliver timely disaster aid for the people of Puerto Rico,” Schumer said.
The White House said $9.6 billion of the new funding is intended to help the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority repair and replace thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines and make other grid improvements.
It said $2 billion would be for the Puerto Rico Department of Education to repair schools across the island.
In October, the island’s government announced a 10-year plan to modernize and strengthen the power grid at a projected cost of around $20 billion.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.