Recovery Post Hurricane Maria
Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis started long before the hurricane hit the shores of the island. Years of austerity-driven measures made the island ill-prepared to respond to natural disasters and forced almost 10% of Puerto Ricans to leave the island.
After Hurricane María, the crisis became a life or death situation. The local and federal government’s response was one of intentional neglect. People did not receive the basic necessities many months after Hurricane María, and well over a year later, many people were without drinking water and power. Since María, conditions have worsened because of earthquakes, the pandemic, and a lack of government response, resulting in over 200,000 Puerto Ricans having to leave the island. Cities in the United States have seen tens–if not hundreds–of thousands of new domestic climate refugees —refugees in need of housing, education, and jobs.
The federal government should promote policies that allow Puerto Rico to have a fair chance of recovery.
- Congress should pass the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of2018 (H.R.4782), Equitable Nutrition Assistance for the Territories Act of 2019(S.677), or similar legislation to provide disaster-recovery assistance with respect to infrastructure, health care, food access, agriculture, education, economic development, and environmental remediation.
- Congress should pass legislation that rebuilds the Pharmaceutical Sector in Puerto Rico and strengthens it with fair environmental and labor standards.
- The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD) should issue a rule rescinding the overly restrictive conditions placed on Puerto Rico’s use of Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds.
- The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should instruct FEMA to prioritize Puerto Rican contractors with Puerto Rican resident workers in disaster-related infrastructure projects.