After leading a call for full coverage of post-hurricane relief costs, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings is spearheading a trip to Puerto Rico, where she and other members of Congress will oversee Federal Emergency Management Agency efforts.
Demings’ Office announced the trip Friday, one day after Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi invited Demings to “see first-hand the devastating impact” of Hurricane Fiona, which tore through the island Monday.
In the days since, Demings has called on President Joe Biden to call for a major disaster declaration, which he did Thursday, and for FEMA to initiate a 100% cost-share of emergency aid — a move others in Congress have requested as well.
“The health and safety of the American people is my No. 1 priority,” Demings said in a statement. “It is critical that we hear directly from Puerto Rican communities and first responders on the ground so that we can evaluate Puerto Rico’s needs and FEMA’s response. We know this storm is yet another blow on top of the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria — a recovery that has taken far too long.
“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. The people of Puerto Rico deserve the best that we can deliver, and I will be expecting to see an extremely high level of professionalism, attention, urgency, and effective action from FEMA and other partners on the ground. We must make families and communities whole. Five years since Hurricane Maria, I am committed to make sure that Puerto Rico has everything they need to rebuild.”
Eight people are confirmed to have died as a result of Hurricane Fiona, which brough 85-mile-per-hour winds, heavy rainfall and flooding to the island as a Category 1 hurricane. An estimated 928,000 households remain without power.
The storm is now headed toward Bermuda and has strengthened to a Category 4, which Hurricane Maria was when it struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, killing close to 3,000, displacing more than 200,000 more and leaving residents without power for nearly a year.
Demings oversees FEMA work as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery in partnership with Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Joining her on the trip are Homeland Security Committee members Nanette Baragán of California, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Ritchie Torres of New York.