Updated Sep 20, 2022 - Science

Puerto Rico requests FEMA assistance from Biden admin

A flooded street is seen after the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 19. Photo: Jose Rodriguez/AFP via Getty Images

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi (D) requested the Biden administration declare Hurricane Fiona a major disaster Tuesday to unlock more federal aid for recovery efforts.

Driving the news: Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to meet with the governor, assess the devastation and get a briefing on power restoration efforts, a FEMA spokesperson told Axios.

  • President Biden has already declared a federal disaster for Puerto Rico, mobilizing delivery of aid to the island.
  • But what the governor is asking for, which will need Biden's approval, will allow additional federal funds to help with disaster relief.

What she's saying: "Today, we saw neighbors helping neighbors and the entire community coming together," Criswell said.

  • "[FEMA] is on the ground and will be with you in the days and months to come as we recover together," she added.

For the record: FEMA has deployed one national and four regional incident management teams, along with two urban search and rescue teams in addition to the hundreds of FEMA personnel on the ground, the agency said.

Threat level: Heavy rainfall and "life-threatening" flash flooding are expected to continue in the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos, per the National Hurricane Center.

  • Additional flash and urban flooding is also possible in Puerto Rico.
  • The center of Fiona is expected to continue to move near the eastern Turks and Caicos during the next few hours, away from those islands by Wednesday, and approach Bermuda late on Thursday, the Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
  • Maximum sustained winds remain near 115 mph with higher gusts.

By the numbers: About 1.2 million customers in Puerto Rico were without power Tuesday, though restoration efforts are underway after an island-wide blackout, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages in the U.S.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Criswell.

Axios' Andrew Freedman contributed to this report.

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