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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Waters’ Statement on Post-Hurricane Recovery Efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands

October 13, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Waters’ Statement on Post-Hurricane Recovery Efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands

 

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus, released the following statement today regarding the status of the post-hurricane recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

 

“The U.S. Virgin Islands were devastated by two major hurricanes in a row.  Most of the territory is still without power, and hospitals have been forced to evacuate patients to the U.S. mainland.[1]  Cellphone towers and telephone poles were knocked down, making it difficult for relief organizations to operate.[2]  It will cost an estimated $200 million just to rebuild the electrical grid, and it was reported that 70% of the buildings in St. Croix alone were damaged.[3] 

 

“As FEMA continues to do their assessments of the damage in the Virgin Islands as well as other states and territories ravaged by this year’s storms, Congress needs to stay vigilant in fully understanding the scope of the damage and continuing to provide enough funding not just for emergency relief, but also long term recovery efforts.  The supplemental appropriations bill the House passed yesterday focuses on emergency relief, and we no doubt need to pass future supplemental bills that focus on long term recovery, including additional CDBG-Disaster Recovery funding. As we consider future disaster packages, I call on my colleagues in Congress to ensure robust CDBG-Disaster Recovery funding necessary to address 100% of the vast unmet needs we are expecting, including in the Virgin Islands.  It is going to be a long road to full recovery for the Virgin Islands and other communities hit by these storms, and we stand firmly by everyone affected now and commit to standing with them in the months to come as we begin the difficult road to recovery.

 

“Another limitation of the supplemental appropriations bill is that it provides only $1 billion in additional Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and about $30 million for the U.S. Virgin Islands, while continuing to impose a 45% local match on both territories, a completely unrealistic expectation in the aftermath of a natural disaster.  Congress should waive local match requirements and pay 100% of the Medicaid expenses of people on these islands, just as Congress did for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina twelve years ago.

 

“We can, and we must, do better for our citizens in the face of disaster.  This country has the capability to respond when its citizens are in need, and we should be committed to doing so in all parts of our great nation.”

 

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