The Pentagon has greatly increased the active-duty forces and assets sent in to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
Sept. 27, 2017, at 4:12 a.m.
The Latest on aid to Puerto Rico (all times local):
The Pentagon has greatly increased the active-duty forces sent in to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico from about 2,500 now to possibly double that number.
John Cornelio, spokesman at U.S. Northern Command, says an Army brigadier general will take over the military response. It will include additional medical facilities, satellite communications equipment and a civil affairs unit from Fort Bragg, N.C. to help communicate with the residents on the island. The unit will use loudspeakers, trucks, leaflets and text messaging to get needed information to the public.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort is expected to leave Baltimore by Saturday, and it will take three to five days to reach Puerto Rico.
The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the costs for debris removal and other emergency protective measures in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The White House made the announcement Tuesday, saying it will pick up all the costs for six months after the hurricane’s impact.
U.S. states and territories typically cover 25 percent of the costs, with the federal government paying the remaining 75 percent.
Previously, Trump had pledged to cover 90 percent of costs for debris removal in the Virgin Islands, and 100 percent of protective measures for 30 days, then 90 percent after that.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says “it will take … aggressive federal reaction” to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico because its government has been so strained by two storms and a fiscal crisis.
Speaking Tuesday outside the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long says the devastation wrought by the storm presents unique logistical challenges for the federal response. He says demolished airports and seaports have made it difficult to get aid and personnel to the stricken island.
Long says 16 Navy and Coast Guard ships are now in the waters around Puerto Rico, with another 10 ships on the way. They include the USS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship. Planes and ships are also bringing in a military force to help distribute aid.
The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the costs for debris removal and other emergency assistance provided to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
President Donald Trump made the change Tuesday as part of an amendment to his earlier disaster declaration authorizing federal aid in response to the Category 4 storm. U.S. states and territories typically cover 25 percent of the costs, with the federal government paying the remaining 75 percent.
Puerto Rican officials and members of Congress had called on Trump to relieve the island’s cash-strapped government of the cost-sharing requirement.
Trump’s declaration covers costs for removing downed trees, utility poles and other debris, as well as spending for emergency protective measures taken to save lives, protect public health and ensure public safety.
President Donald Trump is sending “America’s hearts and prayers” to people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and says he’ll visit both places next week.
Trump said Tuesday that a “massive” effort to help people recover from Hurricane Maria is underway. He added that includes the military.
Maria roared ashore Sept. 20 and knocked out nearly all power in Puerto Rico, leaving its 3.4 million residents short of food, water and supplies.
President Donald Trump says he’ll visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico next Tuesday.
Trump said Tuesday is the earliest he can visit without disrupting recovery operations.
He says he may also visit the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Trump says Puerto Rico is important to him. He says Puerto Ricans are “great people and we need to help them.”