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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 16, 2001
Statement by the Press Secretary
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and ordered Federal aid to supplement commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding and mudslides beginning on May 6, 2001, and continuing.
The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the municipalities of Cabo Rojo, Lajas, Guánica, Guayanilla, San Germán and Yauco.
Assistance can include disaster housing, grants, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding is also available on a cost share basis for hazard mitigation measures.
Joe M. Allbaugh, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), named Justo Hernandez as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
The Agency said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional assistance and municipalities may be added after the assessments are completed.
The Agency said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: FEMA (202) 646-4600.