(Article will be moved and reposted to the website when the problems are fixed.)
FEMA has been under the mainstream media’s watchful eye in regards to Hurricane Maria and the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Since January 23, 2018, they have been blasting the government agency for it’s mishandling of relief efforts and have redoubled their shunning as of January 29, 2018 by releasing news articles of FEMA shutting of aid to the territory, but are the reports true? Has FEMA cut off aid to Puerto Rico? This citizen journalist took to the government’s website to find out.
It all started Jan. 23, 2018, with reports from mainstream media stating FEMA had cut housing to the citizens of Puerto Rico.
A January 23rd statement from FEMA’s website only stated that they need advanced notice for the hearing impaired during inspections to provide further assistance. There was no mention in the statement about cutting housing. This stems from the Transitional Shelter Assistance program, which states an initial assistance period of 5-14 days from its implementation. After such time, FEMA and the state in which the disaster occurred may elect to continue help, if it is needed. The criteria for this assistance is that the victim of the disaster must:
- Register with FEMA for assistance
- Pass identification verifications
- Their residence pre-disaster is located in the area that has been TSA designated, and
- They have been displaced from their home.
During the time in which communities are being rebuilt, they undergo periodic inspections to see if the residents can return to their homes. This is NOT meant to be a permanent fix to the housing issue. Also, the people and families have to continue to qualify for eligibility. FEMA, working with Connecticut, had concluded that an extension was needed through February 14, 2018 (This has since been extended to March 20.). This is in regards to 36 families living in temporary housing in the state. Of the 36 families, 24 did not qualify. FEMA is working with the 12 families who remain on the program. Two families have found alternate housing solutions or left the program under their own power. (NBCnews) The initial scare of Puerto Ricans being ousted from the TSA program was due to a reporting error on FEMA’s part, which has since been corrected.
Fast forward to an article from NPR on January 29, 2018.
The article asserts that FEMA has elected to end all funding and aid on January 30, 2018, which has not happened. Again, a statement issued on that very date from FEMA was stating that a location had be re-opened, and information was being given on how to apply for aid.
Furthermore, FEMA released another statement on February 1, 2018 which said, “FEMA and the government of Puerto Rico are not stopping the provision of commodities in Puerto Rico.” It went on to state, “There was never, and is not now, a decision to stop distributing commodities to the island.”
My Two Cents
As of me writing this article, there are many outlets backtracking, but, as we have seen with past retractions and corrections, the damage has been done, and people are more inclined to believe the prior news releases and not the corrections. I can see in some cases how FEMA may try to scale back efforts so as not to disrupt Puerto Rico’s economy, but they must make sure the territory CAN stand on it’s own before they stop all aid. I will continue to monitor this as it develops and keep you informed as best as I can.
Until next time, question everything.
Anissa “The Mad Woman” Mathias