The Federal Emergency Management Agency urged residents of Puerto Rico Monday to prepare for tropical storm Dorian.
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FEMA cited the importance of preparation for the upcoming hurricane season in light of the ongoing infrastructure reconstruction in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“While Puerto Rico continues its efforts to recover from hurricanes Irma and Maria, although it is a smaller and less severe storm, it could have a significant impact. FEMA remains committed to the ongoing and complex recovery efforts on the island, and also to ensure that all residents are better prepared during hurricane season,” the agency stated, in translation.
The agency urged residents to have an emergency kit ready with a flashlight, medication and other key items. It also directed residents to the FEMA app for real-time emergency updates.
In preparation for Dorian and the hurricane season, a FEMA spokesperson told FOX Business it recommends residents organize important documents like insurance information and an insurance agent’s name, if a claim is necessary later.
The FEMA spokesperson added that “it’s critical to have some cash on hand in case ATM machines go down in a natural disaster.”
FEMA derives funding through the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Once a governor, representative or chief executive has assessed damage, the designated leadership can declare an emergency within 30 days. After an emergency declaration and presidential approval, the agency can mobilize funding to support affected areas.
“Most Americans don’t have $400 readily available in a disaster, so if a federal claim must be filed, it’s important people know the procedure so they can focus on recovery,” the FEMA spokeperson said.
The agency said it was preparing for Dorian and other storms this season through dilligent communication practices and assessing forecasted impact.
"FEMA is taking all possible preparatory actions in anticipation of impacts, including the forward deployment of personnel," the spokesperson said, "Through its regional office in New York City and Joint Recovery Office in San Juan, the agency is conducting checks of its primary, secondary and contingency communications systems,"
According to FEMA’s website, they will then “recommend an increase in the federal share to not more than 90% for Public Assistance when a disaster is so extraordinary that actual federal obligations under the Stafford Act, excluding administrative cost, meet or exceed a qualifying threshold.”
When Maria hit, it cost $90 billion in infrastructure damage, per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), leaving the island in darkness for months and residents without potable water. Irma was a second punch to Puerto Rico, surrounding islands, and Southeastern U.S. slamming the region with over $50 billion in damages. A survey commissioned by the Puerto Rican government found 3,109 people died in the disasters.
In the wake of disturbing government corruption allegations, FEMA reinstated the Manual Drawdown Process for Puerto, increasing oversight for funds in July. In a statement, the agency alleged Gov. Ricardo Rosselló's contentious resignation provided context for “fiscal irregularities” in the government’s mismanagement of funds.
Transitioning into another forecasted challenging hurricane season, NOAA said the developing El Nino could result in a more destructive and costly season. NOAA increased chances of an above-normal hurricane season to 45 percent, up from 30 percent.