June 04, 2020

Cortez Masto, Rosen, Colleagues Seek Answers on How FEMA Is Preparing to Protect Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands During Hurricane Season

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) joined a letter led by Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ahead of the upcoming hurricane season in the Caribbean. In the letter, the lawmakers seek answers to how FEMA is preparing to respond to a storm that hits Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands amidst the numerous other ongoing disasters and recovery efforts.

The lawmakers wrote in the letter, “While we deeply hope that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are left untouched this hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on May 21 that there is a 60 percent chance the 2020 hurricane season is above average. FEMA must be prepared for the worst. Not only are the islands still rebuilding from the devastating 2017 hurricane season, when Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the islands’ people, electrical grid, and infrastructure, Puerto Rico has also been hit by thousands of earthquakes and aftershocks – the most devastating of which was a 6.4-magnitude quake.”

“Unfortunately, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are no better prepared to confront another hurricane than they were before Hurricanes Maria and Irma. In fact, they are in a more vulnerable position,” the lawmakers continued. “In the context of COVID-19, as with other jurisdictions across the country, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have not been able to test their populations adequately. Scientific experts believe that during the coming weeks, Puerto Rico will start facing a shortage of reagents needed for PCR tests. The fragile stage of critical infrastructure on the islands is a recipe for a humanitarian disaster of unimaginable proportions to occur if the islands are hit with another hurricane in the coming months.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.