Biden reassures Puerto Rico it won't be forgotten after Ian

Hurricane Ian
Wind gusts blow across Sarasota Bay as Hurricane Ian churns to the south on September 28, 2022 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo credit Getty Images | Sean Rayford/Stringer

With Hurricane Ian having left destruction in its wake in the populous state of Florida and moving now into South Carolina, its first American victims worry that they will be lost in the shuffle.

But Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to the residents of Puerto Rico that that won’t happen.

“I want to be clear. To the people of Puerto Rico, we have not gone away,” Biden said. “We will stand by you for however long it takes to get it done.”

Puerto Rico has reason to be wary. They have only just begun to see the benefit of billions of dollars allocated to them in the wake of Hurricane Maria, a storm that beset the island five years ago.

As for more recent storms, around 20% of residents currently remain without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, a weather event that hit the island two weeks prior to Hurricane Ian and killed at least 25 people.

“We’re going to be put on the backburner as always,” said Gina DeJesus, an organizer with New York Communities for Change currently in Puerto Rico. “It’s Florida. It’s attached to the United States.”

Currently Congress is considering a funding measure that would allow FEMA to more rapidly hand out desperately needed relief funds from Fiona, a measure that could be used for recovery from Ian as well.

The Biden administration also says they are “actively working” to allow a British Petroleum ship to deliver another much-needed commodity – diesel fuel – to one of Puerto Rico’s ports. Currently the ship is blocked for legal reasons while hospitals running on diesel-powered generators worry about their supplies running out.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images | Sean Rayford/Stringer