Puerto Rico will withhold aid from residents who insist on rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in low-lying and flood-prone areas.
The U.S. is granting $20 billion to Puerto Rico to assist families in rebuilding after Irma and Maria ravaged the island about a year ago. Many island residents may not see a dime of the money, though, if they want to rebuild homes in areas historically prone to flooding or other weather damage. (RELATED: Puerto Rico’s Grid ‘Won’t Last Another Hurricane,’ Top Party Official Says)
“We need to move families to a safe place,” Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico president Luis Burdiel Agudo told The Wall Street Journal.
More than 100,000 Puerto Ricans were left homeless after the hurricanes tore down much of the island’s infrastructure. Still, thousands of them are insisting on rebuilding homes on the same spots where they have lived for decades.
“I wouldn’t leave here. I was born and raised here,” Norma Judith Colón, a 43-year-old resident of Puerto Rico’s southern coast, told WSJ. “Our community is very united … We are not going to allow it.”
The Puerto Rico plan offers individuals and families that cannot afford to rebuild their homes a voucher to move to a safer area or, if no homes are available, the funds to build a new home outside of a floodplain.
The United States National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has run into significant debt paying to rebuild homes in the same areas year after year. Before claims related to Hurricane Harvey began pouring in last year, the NFIP was $24.6 billion into its maximum borrowing limit of $30.4 billion from the U.S. Treasury.
President Donald Trump has increased his attention on Puerto Rico since the most recent estimate on the number of deaths due to 2017’s hurricanes were published. A George Washington University study estimated around 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane.
While Democrats blame Trump for an inadequate response to the natural disaster, Trump has placed blame on the Democrats for inflating the death count to make him look bad.
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