The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
November 21, 2003

Statement on Federal Assistance for Puerto Rico
Statement by the Deputy 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, mudslides, and landslides on November 10, 2003, and continuing.

The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in 9 municipalities. The municipalities include Gunica, Guayama, Juana Diaz, Maunabo, Patillas, Ro Grande, Salinas, Santa Isabel, and Yauco.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, 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.

Representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, 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 more municipalities and additional forms of assistance may be designated for assistance after the assessments are completed. The Agency said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated municipalities can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362), 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.


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