The White House announced late Wednesday that President Joe Biden has approved Puerto Rico’s federal disaster declaration following the landfall of Hurricane Fiona.
The hurricane left most of the island without power and many areas flooded. Fiona was a Category 1 hurricane during its Sunday landfall. It has since intensified to a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Bermuda.
The emergency declaration allows Puerto Ricans access to grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster, the White House said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has 700 staff members in Puerto Rico assisting with recovery efforts. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell was in Puerto Rico Wednesday overseeing efforts.
FEMA said it had 7 million liters of water and 4 million ready-to-eat meals prepositioned in the territory.
Puerto Rico power agency LUMA said early Thursday that power has been restored to 420,000 customers, representing 28% of the territory. LUMA said it has 2,000 utility workers trying to restore electricity.
A heat advisory and high heat warning are exacerbating issues for those without air conditioning. Parts of Puerto Rico could reach a heat index of 114 degrees on Thursday. Puerto Rico’s largest city San Juan was among the areas under a high heat warning for Thursday.