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Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria (DR-4339)

Incident Period: September 17, 2017 - November 15, 2017
Major Disaster Declaration declared on September 20, 2017

Individual Assistance Applications
Approved: 464,541

Total Individual & Households Program
Dollars Approved: $1,236,356,772.52

Total Public Assistance Grants
Dollars Obligated: $4,475,794,744.95

Designated Counties (Individual Assistance):

Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco

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Community Recovery Centers (CRC)

The Government of Puerto Rico and FEMA have opened community recovery centers to address local needs and expedite recovery assistance for survivors of hurricanes Irma and María.

 

The centers serve all community members, and visitors do not have to be registered with FEMA to access these services. Representatives from local and volunteer agencies are available at centers across the island to provide assistance with housing repairs, commodities and clothing, rental resources, FEMA case review, emotional and spiritual wellness services and legal services.

Public Assistance Program

FEMA's Public Assistance program provides grants to eligible government and certain private nonprofit organizations. This assistance is granted for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities.

The program also encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providingassistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process.

The Public Assistance program is funded by FEMA and administered by the Government of Puerto Rico. FEMA obligates funding for these projects directly to Puerto Rico.

Hub of Philanthropic Engagement- Puerto Rico

FEMA’s experience in long term recovery will be instrumental in connecting Puerto Rico’s unmet needs to the larger world of philanthropic resources and expertise.

FEMA’s Hub of Philanthropic Engagement focuses on increasing the role of philanthropy in Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery.

Disaster Assistance Resources

Disaster Assistance Resources•You have 60 days to appeala FEMA decision after you receive adetermination on eligibility• Check the status of yourapplication• Complete your low-interest disasterloan application• Financial assistance for households• Medical assistance• Open shelters• Individual and• Mortgage insurance forhomeowners after a disaster• Housing counseling throughapproved agencies• Loans to repair andrebuild homesgroup counselingVALOR• Contact your local church orvoluntary agency• Coordinate with agency tohelp with basic homerepairs211 (USA)United Way• Supplemental food• Mobile feeding unit for rescueworkers and survivors• Help with clothing, food, shelter,spiritual and medical needs• Housing option and utilityassistance• Employment and educationalopportunities• FEMA appeals process• Create a goal-oriented plan forrecovery• Develop a permanent housingplanVISIT fema.gov/disaster/4339 to stay on top of Puerto Rico’s recovery updates from

  • FEMA Helpline

    • 800-621-FEMA (3362)

    • 800-462-7585 (TTY)

  • American Red Cross 800-Red Cross

    • (800-733-2767) (USA)

    • 787-758-8150 (PR)

  • U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

    • 787-766-5400 (PR)

    • 202-708-1112 (FL)

    • 787-999-7000 (PR)

    • 703-684-5500 (USA)

  • Salvation Army Crisis Counseling

    • 800-447-1985

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • 800-659-2955

  • Tu Hogar Renace (STEP)

    • 855-675-4480

  • Disaster Case Management

    • 855-742-5993

Hurricane Preparedness

Now is the time to prepare for hurricane season.

The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most devastating and costly on record. Regardless of when they form and the geographic location they hit, hurricanes leave a path of destruction for everyone to repair. In situations like these, the only thing we can do is make sure we prepare for the hurricane before it arrives.

Construction Techniques to Minimize Damage

FEMA has prepared six Recovery Advisories in English and Spanish to describe mitigation measures that can be taken to minimize building damage.

A Mitigation Assessment Team was deployed to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria to evaluate the performance of buildings and infrastructure. Recovery Advisories are based on these field observations and provide information to assist with rebuilding decisions in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes as well as any future flooding or high wind events. This guidance is intended for homeowners, designers, building owners and officials, architects, engineers, and contractors; however, can provide helpful information for other stakeholders as well.

For more information visit the following links:

Puerto Rico

One Year After Hurricanes Irma and María

“We’ll be here until the job is complete.”

--Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne

One year after hurricanes Irma and María devastated Puerto Rico, FEMA, its federal partners and the Government of Puerto Rico are undertaking one of the largest post-disaster reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in U.S. history.

Major portions of the infrastructure are being rebuilt as federal agencies support the Government of Puerto Rico’s plan to restore the island’s lifeline systems and enable Puerto Rico to withstand the storms to come.

In 2017, Hurricanes Irma, María and other disasters affected nearly 47 million people in the United States. While recovery continues, FEMA and its interagency partners remain focused and dedicated to the continued stabilization and resilience of impacted communities. FEMA continues to support response and recovery from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, María and the California wildfires.

After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico had no electricity, no water, no telecommunications and no transportation systems. Today, electricity is flowing, water systems are operating, traffic is moving, airports and seaports are operating and permanent reconstruction has already begun.

Never before has FEMA coordinated federal resources to rebuild an entire commonwealth with a population of 3.3 million people, 78 municipalities, electrical, water and telecommunications systems, seaports, airports, schools, healthcare system, roads and bridges. More than 166,000 homes need repair or reconstruction.

Unique Challenges

The response to Hurricane María was unprecedented. It was the largest and longest federal response to a domestic disaster in the history of the United States. To put María’s impacts into context, this has been:

  • The longest sustained domestic air mission of food and water response in U.S. history;
  • The largest disaster commodity distribution mission in U.S. history;
  • The largest sea-bridge operation of federal disaster aid in U.S. history;
  • The largest disaster generator installation mission in the United States, with generators still installed at critical facilities today;
  • One of the largest disaster medical response missions in U.S. history; and
  • One of largest disaster housing missions in U.S. history.

Then and Now

After María, Puerto Rico’s entire electrical grid failed. Nobody had power. In 30 days, 21 percent of customers were restored to power; in 60 days, 49 percent; in 90 days, 65 percent. Today, power has been restored to 99.99 percent of customers able to receive an electrical hookup.

Water systems were inoperable. Water service went from 20 to 69 percent operational in 30 days, 91 percent in 60 days. Today, 99.5 percent of water customers are restored.

Debris from María and 41,000 landslides shut down all but 400 miles of Puerto Rico’s 16,700 miles of roads, cutting off municipalities across the island. Today, the roads are clear and traffic is moving.

María knocked out 95 percent of cellular sites. In 30 days, 61 percent of cellular sites were operating; in 60 days, 96 percent; today, 99.8 percent.

“This is a massive job and it has taken a massive effort by everybody: the Government of Puerto and the municipalities, federal agencies, voluntary and faith-based organizations and the private sector,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne, who is leading FEMA’s recovery efforts. “This work will go on for years, and we’ll be here until the job is complete.”

Progress in neighborhoods, restoration of services

Progress in Puerto Rico, Hurricane María. Numbers of days after María made landfall. DAY 1 - Cell service 4.8%, Water service 20%, Generators installed at critical facilities 0, Power 0%. DAY 30 - Cell service 61%, Water service 69%, Generators installed at critical facilities 148, Power 21%. DAY 60 - Cell service 96%, Water service 90.63%, Generators installed at critical facilities 645, Power 49%. 6 MONTHS - Cell service 96%, Water service 98.7%, Generators installed at critical facilities 872, Power 94.56%. ONE YEAR - Cell service 99.81%, Water service 99.56%, Generators installed at critical facilities 129, Power 99.99%.

More than 462,000 households have received a total of $1.4 billion in FEMA Individual Assistance for essential home repairs, rental assistance and other disaster-related costs. Under FEMA’s Temporary Sheltering Assistance program more than 7,000 families were housed in just over 1,000 hotels in 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

To date, the Tu Hogar Renace (Your Home Reborn) program, administered by the Government of Puerto Rico and funded by FEMA, repaired 68,654 homes. Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repair, VALOR, repaired 1,403 homes.

The U.S. Small Business Administration approved $1.8 billion in low-interest disaster loans to 52,228 homeowners, renters and businesses. The National Flood Insurance Program paid $21 million to policyholders.

Eight million cubic yards of debris was removed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local jurisdictions. USACE installed emergency generators at 1,300 sites to support critical facilities. USACE also installed 59,469 blue roofs and FEMA supplied 126,000 blue tarps for homeowners to install.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Government of Puerto Rico $20 billion in Community Development Block Grants to help rebuild housing and meet other community needs.

FEMA has obligated more than $3.3 billion in Public Assistance grants to help pay for debris removal, power restoration and emergency services; more funding is planned for repair or replacement of public infrastructure.

Preparations for the next storm

Puerto Rico’s Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency reports that 74 of the island’s 78 municipalities have selected recovery projects to help build future resiliency, with the support and guidance of FEMA incident management assistance teams. Puerto Rico’s Emergency Operations Center practiced responding to simulated incidents with support from FEMA personnel. Training also has been provided to personnel involved in health care, energy, water, telecommunications, transportation, debris removal and commodity distribution.
Currently 422 shelters are available if needed. FEMA has increased the amount of commodities stored on the island in four new warehouses:

  • 13.8 million liters of water
  • 3.8 million meals
  • 630 generators
  • 20,000 blankets
  • 270,000 tarps
  • 73,500 rolls of plastic sheeting

The devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. It is important for residents to prepare in advance to help themselves and their community. Find tips at Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.

How can FEMA Help You

Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is available to help individuals and families affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria take care of necessary expenses and serious needs that are not covered by insurance or other forms of assistance.

Assistance may include:

  • Personal Property: Assistance to repair or replace common household items including furnishings and appliances.
  • Assistance to pay for medical or dental expenses caused by the disaster. This includes hospital and ambulance services, and medication replacement.
  • Assistance for expenses incurred due to a death caused by the disaster. Expenses include the cost of a casket or urn and funeral services.
  • Assistance for increased child care costs for children aged 13 and under, or children with a disability aged 14 to 18.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: Assistance to purchase specific items approved by the State, Tribe or Territory. They may include items such as a wet/dry vacuum, chainsaw, or dehumidifier.
  • Moving and Storage Expenses: Assistance to temporarily relocate and store personal property from the damaged primary residence while repairs are made.

Housing assistance may be provided in the form of:

  • Rental Assistance: Financial assistance to rent temporary housing while disaster-caused repairs are made to your primary residence, or while you move to permanent housing.
  • Home Repair: Financial assistance to homeowners to repair uninsured home damage caused by the disaster. The assistance is intended to repair your home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition.
  • Home Replacement: Financial assistance for homeowners who must replace or rebuild their primary residence as a result of the disaster.

FEMA also provides grants to Puerto Rico that can help individuals and families with needs including:

  • Crisis Counseling: Assists individuals and communities recovered from the effects of a disaster through community-based outreach and educational services.
  • Disaster Legal Services: Provides free legal assistance to low income individuals who are unable to secure legal services to meet their disaster-related needs. Those affected by the disaster in Puerto Rico can call 1-800-310-7029 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. local time Monday through Friday.
  • Disaster Case Management Program: Program to establish a partnership between a case manager and disaster survivor to develop a Disaster Recovery Plan for the survivor to address disaster-caused unmet needs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters. You do not need to own a business to apply for a disaster loan.

For more information about applying for a disaster loan or about assistance from other federal partners, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or call 1-800-621-3362.

If you need Rental Assistance:

We will provide rental assistance directly to disaster survivors, who are then responsible for finding available rental resources of their choosing. The amount of monthly rental assistance available to survivors who evacuated to the Continental United States depends upon the county or parish where the survivor has relocated following Hurricane Maria. That is why it is so important to keep your contact information updated with FEMA.

Important inspection information for survivors in the U.S.

  • We are allowing survivors to verbally designate a local point of contact or representative to act on their behalf, if they are unable to be present for an inspection.
  • If you have been contacted by an inspector, let the inspector know who your local point of contact is and how the inspector can contact them.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also accept a local representative in order to install a blue roof on a survivor’s home. Survivors who are unable to physically sign up for the Blue Roof Program, or provide a right of entry form, because they are displaced should call 888-766-3258.

What to Expect After You Apply

Once homeowners register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a FEMA housing inspector will call to schedule an inspection for those living in designated counties. Here’s what survivors need to know about the inspection process:

 What to expect after you apply for FEMA aid. You may receive an application to apply for a low-interest long-term SBA loan. Completing the SBA loan application is an important step in finding out what aid may be available to you. As a homeowner you may borrow up to $200,000 to repair/replace your primary residence, and up to $40,000 to repair/replace personal property. You are not required to accept the loan in order to receive FEMA assistance, but it may enable you to be considered for additional types of assistance. An inspector will contact you to schedule a visit. Be ready to keep your scheduled appointment. Appointments take 30-40 minutes and you must be present. Contact your insurance agent if you have insurance. Prove your identity. Show these documents:-Photo ID: driver’s license or passport.-Proof of occupancy: lease or utility bill.-Proof of ownership: deed, title, mortgage payment book, or tax receipts.(*This is not an exhaustive list.) During the Inspector’s VisitInspectors will…-wear official FEMA ID badges.-confirm your disaster registration number.-review structural and personal property damages.-ask you to sign official documentation.-verify ownership and occupancy. Inspectors won’t….-determine eligibility.-cost any money.-ask for credit card information.-take the place of an insurance inspection. After the Inspector’s visit….You will be sent a decision letter. If approved for aid:-You will receive a check or an electronic funds transfer.-A follow-up letter will explain how the money can be used. If you have questions regarding the letter, you can visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area (fema.gov/drc) or call us at 800-621-3362 (711/Video Relay Service). For TTY, call 800-462-7585.

Everyone should know:

  • The FEMA inspector will show a photo ID badge.
  • If you are not shown photo identification, then do not allow the inspection.
  • If you suspect someone is posing as a FEMA inspector, call your local law enforcement agency.
  • You may receive visits from more than one inspector. Other inspectors may represent federal, state, parish and local government agencies, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the National Flood Insurance Program and/or insurance companies.
  • Representatives of volunteer agencies may contact you to offer their services.

Before the FEMA inspection, it’s important that you know:

  • An adult 18 or older who lived in the residence before the disaster must be present for the inspection.
  • That person must have the following documents:
    • Photo identification;
    • Proof of ownership and occupancy of the damaged residence such as: property tax bill; mortgage payment bill or receipt, or utility service bill;
    • Homeowner and vehicle insurance documents;
    • List of persons living in residence at time of disaster that you compiled; and
    • List of disaster damage to the home and its contents that you compiled.

How to Appeal a FEMA Decision

Applicants have a right to appeal any FEMA decision.

Some survivors who registered for federal disaster assistance may have received a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that says they are ineligible. The reason for the decision may be something that can be easily fixed, such as providing insurance documents or new contact information.

All appeals must be made in the form of a signed letter within 60 days of the date on the determination letter.

What to do if you disagree with FEMA’s decision letter1. Read the letter carefully to find out why the decision was made.Do you need to provide additional information?• Insurance determination letter.• Proof of occupancy or ownership.• Proof of ID.• Applicant’s signature.Common reasons for the initial decision:• The damage was to a secondary home or a rental property, not a primary residence.• Someone else in the household applied and received assistance.• Disaster-related losses could not be verified.• Insurance covered all losses.2. Contact FEMA for help with filing an appeal or any questions.Call800-621-3362 (711 or Video Relay Service available)800-462-7585 (TTY)VisitA Disaster Recovery Center3. File a written appeal.Explain why you think the decision was not correct.• Provide supporting information and documents.• Include your FEMA registration number on all documents.• Sign the letter.Mail or fax your appeal within 60 days of the decision letter date, or drop it off at a Disaster Recovery Center.

When survivors apply for individual disaster assistance through FEMA, their needs are assessed based on a number of factors, including eligibility requirements laid out under federal law.  Sometimes people do not qualify for financial help right away. Some of the reasons for an initial turn down can be:

  • You might not have gotten your insurance settlement;
  • You may not have given FEMA all the information we need;
  • You haven’t given us proof of ownership or residence;
  • You may not have returned the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application;
  • You may not have provided records that showed the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;
  • You may not have signed essential documents.

Read your letter carefully. FEMA may only need you to provide additional information. Your appeal should include new or missing information, documents and damage repair estimates that support the appeal request. If it isn’t clear, or more information is needed, a specialist at the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711, video relay service) can help. TTY users can call 800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

It is important to date the appeal letter and mail it to the following address:

Appeals may also be faxed to: 1-800-827-8112, Attention: FEMA. You can also call the helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585.

Everyone should read their letters carefully, ask questions, ask for help, and tell us if you think we got it wrong. We are here to serve you – the disaster survivor – and it is your right to ask us to reconsider our decision.

Be Aware of Fraud and Other Scams

Disasters bring out criminals looking to prey on survivors who appear to be easy targets for their scams.

Survivors should be aware that fraud and scams can occur anytime. FEMA encourages survivors to be alert and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud by scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals.

Anyone who suspects fraud or scams should call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. The toll-free number is open 24 hours a day.

Common tactics used by scam artists include phone calls from people claiming to work for FEMA. The caller may ask for the survivor’s Social Security number, income or banking information.

Survivors should never trust someone claiming to be a disaster assistance employee asking for money. FEMA does not endorse any commercial business, product or service, and local and federal disaster assistance workers do not solicit or accept money.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) 711/VRS - Video Relay Service). Multilingual operators are available. (Press 2 for Spanish). TTY call 800-462-7585.

Survivors of Hurricane Maria are urged to be aware of con artists trying to rip them off by claiming they will register them or help obtain disaster relief.

Inspectors and representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or other agencies that work with you to register you for assistance will have identification.

Relief agencies warn individual survivors and homeowners that bogus contractors and scam artists may target them during disaster recoveries.

A common fraud involves people posing as representatives of FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Government workers never ask for a fee or payment. They always wear official government photo IDs.

Relief officials say survivors can take these steps to protect against fraud:

  • Before any work begins, get a written contract detailing all work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes.
  • Take a picture of your contractor, his vehicle and its license plate.
  • Take a picture of the contractor’s business card and his driver’s license.
  • Don’t offer personal financial information over the phone. Know who you are dealing with. Ask for identification.
  • Watch out for middlemen who promise you will receive disaster grants or money, especially if they ask for an upfront payment.

The job of FEMA housing inspectors is to verify damage. Inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They do not determine eligibility for assistance.                 

If you suspect anyone – an inspector, disaster survivor or someone posing as one of these – of fraudulent activities, call the free FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955, or local law enforcement.   

If you received a letter from us indicating that your application for disaster assistance is under investigation for fraud, read it carefully. Applications may be under investigation for different reasons, such as a possible error when registering.

Call the FEMA helpline within 30 days from the date of the letter to discuss your situation. If you DID apply for assistance, we can make sure your application information is correct and updated.

If you DID NOT apply for assistance, please let us know that the case may be fraudulent. Call the helpline to speak to a representative by dialing 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available), or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY.

Video Resources

  • Browse through our library of disaster recovery video resources for people with disabilities.
  • The Center For Disease Prevention (CDC) has additional informational videos in American Sign Language that are captioned in Spanish.

Contact Us

 Visit disasterassistance.gov to update and track your application. Make changes in person at a disaster recovery center. Find one near you at fema.gov/DRC. Give us a call at 800-621-3362 (711 or Video Relay Service available) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). You can also check your local post office for your FEMA letter. They may be holding your mail until all delivery services are available.

If you haven’t heard from us after applying for assistance, you may need to update your contact information. If you changed your address or phone, even temporarily, be sure to let us know.

Here is how:

FEMA Helpline

Contact the FEMA Helpline if you have questions about:

  • The help offered by FEMA.
  • How to apply for assistance.
  • Information in your account.

Call 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, 7 days a week:

Or write to:

FEMA
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

Media Contacts

For media inquiries in Puerto Rico, call FEMA Puerto Rico News Desk at (866) 366-8807.

For other inquiries, visit FEMA's Media Contacts or call 202-646-3272.

Financial Assistance

Individual Assistance - Dollars Approved

$1,236,356,772.52

Total Individual & Households Program (IHP) - Dollars Approved*

$695,361,566.96

Total Housing Assistance (HA) - Dollars Approved*

$540,995,205.56

Total Other Needs Assistance (ONA) - Dollars Approved*

464,541

Total Individual Assistance (IA) - Applications Approved*

Public Assistance - Dollars Approved

$4,475,794,744.95

Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) - Dollars Obligated✝

$3,979,299,289.53

Emergency Work (Categories A-B) - Dollars Obligated✝

$136,271,955.34

Permanent Work (Categories C-G) - Dollars Obligated✝

* Dollars Approved: Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.
✝ Dollars Obligated: Funds made available to the State via electronic transfer following FEMA's final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Learn more about FEMA Disaster definitions. Information is updated every 24 hours.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Report

PDA Report; FEMA-4339-DR

Last Updated: 2017-12-06 05:00