CREW received records in response to this request that show that FEMA sent only $3.3 billion in the 18 months following the hurricane.Records reveal: 1.5 years after Hurricane Maria, FEMA had sent only $3.3 billion to Puerto Rican gov’t
On April 2, 2019, President Trump tweeted: “Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before & all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money.” In a further tweet, he said: “Cannot continue to hurt our Farmers and States with these massive payments, and so little appreciation!” CREW requested records from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to determine the accuracy of the president’s Puerto Rico disaster relief figure.
It seems that President Trump’s tweet is unsubstantiated, and that the real amount of disaster relief is only a small fraction of $91 billion. The Washington Post has said that the number in the president’s tweet is “simply false….this is a 20-year estimate subject to change. The island so far has only received about $11 billion.”
If, as President Trump says, Puerto Rico was granted an unprecedented amount of disaster relief that amounts to $91 billion, surely records of the expenditures would be held by FEMA, the agency tasked with coordinating disaster response in the United States, or by DHS, which oversees FEMA.
An accurate public accounting of the funds going to relief in Puerto Rico is of immense public interest, especially as the president is using the figure to advocate for changes to the budget and his political agenda. The requested records will shed light on the source and accuracy of the president’s number as he justifies cutting off further aid for Puerto Rico, while portraying the administration’s response to the disaster as generous and underappreciated.