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Biden announces $60M in Puerto Rico aid: ‘We have to do more’

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President Joe Biden flew to Puerto Rico to tell the island 'America's with you' as it recovers from its latest hurricane./AFP
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Oct 04, 2022 - 01:03 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Joe Biden announced on Monday more than $60 million in additional federal assistance to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Fiona, and help the US territory better prepare for additional natural disasters.

Biden acknowledged past shortcomings in how the federal government has dealt with Puerto Rico, but said the new funding will help the island’s coastal communities better prepare for future storms.

“You have had to bear so much, and more than need be, and you haven’t gotten the help in a timely way,” Biden said while delivering remarks on the island’s Puerto de Ponce.

“We have to do more. We have to ensure that when the next hurricane strikes, Puerto Rico is ready,” he added. “As we rebuild we have to ensure that we build it to last.”

The $60 million Biden announced will flow to Puerto Rico via the recently-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and will be used to improve the island’s levee system, strengthen flood walls, and create a new flood early warning system, according to the White House.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 18 as a powerful Category 1 hurricane, knocking out power for the island’s 3.2 million people as it dropped over 30 inches (76 cm) of rain.

“All of America is with you as you receive, and recover and rebuild,” said the president. “I’m committed to this island.”

Biden’s visit to Puerto Rico is the first of two he will make this week to hurricane ravaged parts of the US. On Wednesday, he is set to visit Florida where Hurricane Ian left widespread devastation. Historic storm surge, inland river flooding, and powerful winds left over 80 people dead.

Biden will survey the damage, estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars to rebuild.

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