The Trump administration is providing Puerto Rico with tens of millions of dollars to help the small American territory rebuild crucial infrastructure that Hurricane Maria destroyed.
The Federal Highway Administration will immediately begin disbursing $40 million in emergency relief funds to Puerto Rico to help rebuild roads and bridges. Officials made the request early Thursday morning, and it was immediately approved.
“Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria, so I have directed the Department to release $40 million in emergency funding to begin restoring and repairing the roads and bridges across the island,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Thursday in a press statement. “It is critical to get the island’s infrastructure in working condition … so relief supplies … can be delivered to the people of Puerto Rico.”
The White House also announced Thursday that the president would temporarily waive the Jones Act, a shipping law protecting U.S. shippers that many Republicans would like to see repealed. Puerto Rico’s governor had said that the law hindered aid from reaching the island.
Moody’s Analytics estimates that the island lost up to $40 billion in economic output and suffered another $55 billion in property damage because of Maria, which hit the island as a Category 4 storm just over a week ago. Puerto Rico was already reeling from Hurricane Irma, which made indirect landfall on the island in late August.
That’s $95 billion in economic costs, roughly on par with an entire year of economic activity on Puerto Rico. The island territory’s output was about $100 billion in 2016.
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