Biden arrives in Puerto Rico to evaluate damage from Hurricane Fiona

Ponce, Puerto Rico, Oct 3 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Monday landed in the southern Puerto Rican city of Ponce to evaluate the damage caused by the recent Hurricane Fiona and to demonstrate his administration’s support for the island.

On his first official trip to Puerto Rico as president, a trip scheduled to last about three hours, Biden was welcomed at Mercedita International Airport by the US commonwealth’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, Ponce Mayor Luis Irizarry and the island’s resident commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer Gonalez, among other officials.

The president is scheduled to visit the Sister Isolina Ferre Aguayo Center and, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, he will meet with families and community leaders affected by the storm that, since it ravaged the island on Sept. 18, has caused 25 deaths.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press conference on board Air Force One en route to Puerto Rico, that Biden is heading to the part of the island hardest hit by Fiona.

“With today’s … visit, President Biden is making clear that supporting the people of Puerto Rico remains his priority,” she said.

Before departing, Biden told reporters at the White House that “I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of. They’ve been trying like hell to catch up from the last hurricane.”

His predecessor in the White House, Republican Donald Trump, showed considerable lack of interest in or respect for Puerto Rico, going to far as to assert during a visit to the island in 2017 that the disaster caused by Hurricane Maria earlier that year was not “a real catastrophe.”

Biden is scheduled during his visit to Puerto Rico to announce more than $60 million in federal funding for projects to mitigate local flooding from hurricanes.

These funds, authorized via the infrastructure funding package approved by Congress and signed by Biden in late 2021, are aimed at shoring up dikes and strengthening walls and other structures against flooding in Puerto Rico.

In addition, the president will announce a new US government effort to make the island’s energy grid more secure and resistant after Fiona damaged more than half the local transmission lines and electricity distribution centers, causing a general blackout.

EFE mv-jm/eat/bp

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