On Wednesday, FEMA announced it will “officially shut off” emergency food and water aid to Puerto Rico. FEMA claims they provided more than 30 million gallons of water and 60 million meals.
However, many on the island believe it’s too soon to end the deliveries as there is still a third of people that lack electricity and some places lack running water.
But FEMA cites their internal analytics which they say shows only 1 percent of the people still need emergency food and water. They believe that the Puerto Rican government and nonprofit groups can take over the task.
Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA’s director in Puerto Rico, stated, “The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal.”
He continued,”If we’re giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy. It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico. So we need to create a balance. With the financial assistance we’re providing to families and the municipalities, they’re able to go back to the normal economy.”
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Some also argue that the whole island isn’t ready to resume their normal lives.
For example, in Morovis, Mayor Carmen Maldonado revealed that there are about 10,000 of her 30,000 residents are still receiving food and water from FEMA.
Maldonado stated, “There are some municipalities that may not need the help anymore, because they’ve got nearly 100 percent of their energy and water back. Ours is not so lucky.”
Even though the government says there’s only a third of Puerto Ricans that lack electricity, Maldonado believes that number is 80 percent in her municipality.
She said that the lack of electricity has forced families to rely on FEMA’s aid of water and food.
She stated, “In municipalities like this one, where families are going out to work just to buy gas to run a generator, it becomes very hard because money they would use to buy food they’re instead using to buy fuel.”
She also argued that there are some people who can’t afford a generator.
Maldonado continued, “This is all something that FEMA should contemplate before eliminating its delivery of these supplies.”
Maldonado added that she’ll continue to distribute the aid for as long as she keeps receiving it and once it’s cut off, she’ll find another way to cope.
She concluded, “That’s been our policy since day one. Not to leave anyone without food or water.”
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