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Earthquake Survivors Helped by FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance

Porto Rico (États-Unis d'Amérique)
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Release date: July 21, 2020

Release Number: DR-4473-PR NR 39

PONCE, Puerto Rico – FEMA paid more than $3 million to several hundred eligible households to stay in hotels in Puerto Rico while they sought a permanent solution to homes that were damaged or destroyed by the ongoing earthquakes.

At the request of the Government of Puerto Rico, FEMA approved the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program Feb. 8 to provide survivors short-term, emergency shelter, or an immediate place to stay for a limited time. The program ended July 20.

"We are pleased that our Transitional Sheltering Assistance program was able to help some of the most vulnerable residents when they needed it most," said Federal Coordinating Officer Alex Amparo, who is leading FEMA's response and recovery operations on the island. "The program that closed July 20 allowed survivors time and resources to find permanent homes."

Puerto Rico's southwest coast was jolted by a magnitude 4.7 earthquake on Dec. 28. It was the first of dozens of earthquakes that shook the island in the past seven months, the largest a magnitude 6.4 aftershock that struck on Jan. 7. A magnitude 5.4 aftershock was felt along the southern coast on May 2 and a magnitude 5.3 aftershock on July 3.

The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program is designed as a short-term, emergency bridge to shelter survivors as they put their lives back in order. Under the program, the cost of the hotel rooms and taxes was covered by FEMA, which paid hotels directly on behalf of eligible households.

FEMA caseworkers helped earthquake survivors to develop their own long-term housing plans, suggested housing resources and notified survivors about their check-out date.

After the government's lockdown orders in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the May aftershocks, the program was extended to July 14.

It was extended another week for a dozen families who needed additional time to settle into more permanent housing.

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