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Housing aid delay for USVI and Puerto Rico

Two years after the impact of Hurricane Marie on Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, the Federal Government of the U.S. is yet to release all funds earmarked to aid recovery. 

The aftermath of Hurricane Marie in Puerto Rico. (Photo: The Wall Street Journal)

At midyear, President Donald Trump had indicated that he would delay over US$8 billion in funds slated for Puerto Rico because he feared misuse, and about US $770 million for the US Virgin Islands due to “capacity issues”.

Related reports said the concerns over capacity issues, is linked to the slow rate of spend of funds already allocated. 

Trump delayed a US$8 billion in funds for Puerto Rico for fear of misuse. (Photo: ABC News)

 Congress representatives and local government in USVI have indicated that the territory is working on building capacity in its Disaster Relief Agency, so as to better manage the funds. 

In relation to Puerto Rico, up to August, Congress had allocated about US $42 billion of which only about $14 billion had reached the island so far.

More than two dozen people across the region died as a result of Hurricane Marie.
(Photo:Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)

In the latest update on recovery efforts in the US territories, Bloomberg reported on September 11 that Federal Emergency Management Agency officials who oversaw the reconstruction of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and the former president of Cobra Acquisitions were arrested on fraud and conspiracy charges linked to recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria, according to federal prosecutors.

FEMA’s Regional Administrator Ahsha Tribble, her former deputy, Jovanda Patterson, and Cobra’s former president Donald Keith Ellison face a 15-count indictment alleging crimes including conspiracy to bribe public officials, false statements and fraud.