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November 22, 2017 3:15 PM, EST
USDOT Boosts Emergency Aid for Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands
Hurricane Maria YouTube

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive additional funds to help agencies there pay for highway infrastructure that was damaged by back-to-back hurricanes in September, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Nov. 22.

Puerto Rico will receive $30 million, while the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive $6 million in emergency aid. The repairs will focus on infrastructure critical to transporting goods and services between metropolitan regions.

These additional funds are part of the department's long-term committment.

Elaine Chao, U.S. transportation secretary

Since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the islands, about half of Puerto Ricans remain without power, while large portions of the Virgin Islands have yet to be repaired.

“These additional funds are part of the department’s long-term commitment to helping the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands rebuild and recover from devastating storms,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The department had provided Puerto Rico with $42.5 million in aid from the Federal Highway Administration responding to the natural disasters. The U.S. Virgin Islands had received $2 million.

Prior to the Thanksgiving recess, the White House called on Congress to approve $44 billion for hurricane response efforts at the islands, as well as Texas and Florida. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, both Republicans, requested $94 billion in recovery relief.

Congress is expected to consider a disaster relief bill before the end of the year.