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Maloney, Velázquez, and Ocasio-Cortez Seek Documents on Disaster Aid in Warehouse in Puerto Rico

Feb 25, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2020)—Today, Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Small Business, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent letters seeking documents from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding reports that disaster-relief supplies remained in a warehouse in Ponce for more than two years rather than being distributed to families in need.

Last week, the Members visited Puerto Rico along with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer as part of a congressional delegation to survey Puerto Rico’s painstaking progress in recovering from the 2017 hurricanes and to investigate damage from recent earthquakes. 

“We were moved by the resilience of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico in the face of back-to-back natural disasters, and we saw first-hand that Puerto Ricans urgently need more federal assistance,” the Members wrote in their letters today.  “We believe that both the federal government and the government of Puerto Rico must work to enhance accountability and transparency and to ensure that critical relief reaches the people of Puerto Rico who need it most.”

According to press reports, a warehouse in Ponce operated by PREMA was stocked with supplies from FEMA, including bottled water, diapers, baby formula, portable stoves, and propane gas, but these supplies were not distributed to those in need.  

Following these reports, the Governor of Puerto Rico terminated the Commissioner of PREMA and initiated an investigation by the Bureau of Special Investigations within Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety. 

“While these are important steps, we seek to fully understand why supplies at the Ponce warehouse were not distributed more quickly and whether additional steps are necessary to ensure that crucial federal aid reaches the people of Puerto Rico without further delays,” the Members wrote.

Maloney, Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez requested documents by March 10, 2020.

Click here to read the letter to the Puerto Rican agencies.

Click here to read the letter to FEMA.

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116th Congress