Home Local News Obama frees up emergency aid for PR
Issued : Tuesday, August 23, 2011 04:30 PM
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Obama frees up emergency aid for PR

By CB Online Staff

President Barack Obama declared Tuesday an emergency exists in Puerto Rico and ordered federal aid to supplement commonwealth and local response efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate named Justo Hernández as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Flood warnings and watches remained in effect over the entire island on Tuesday morning as rains continued to drench Puerto Rico in the wake of the passage of Hurricane Irene.

Most central government workers were back on the job Tuesday, but many students got another day off as cleanup work continues in the wake of Hurricane Irene’s passage across Puerto Rico.

Irene is the first hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since September 1998, when Georges roared across the length of the island as a powerful Category 3 storm.

Hurricane Irene cut power to nearly a million Puerto Rico Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) clients, downing trees and flooding streets on Monday. There were no reports of deaths or major injuries on the island, but Fortuño declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay indoors to avoid downed power lines, flooded streets and other hazards.

Prepa crews were working around the clock to restore power, but utility chief Miguel Cordero acknowledged it could take several days to finish the job in rural, mountainous areas. Some 100,000 Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority clients lost water service as pumps were idled by the power outages.

Municipal crews were working quickly to clean up hundreds of downed trees.

The recovery work was done despite lingering rains that pushed rivers above their banks in Fajardo, Toa Baja, Canovanas and other areas.

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