Plaskett, Pelosi lead fight for more hurricane recovery funding

Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused a combined $140 billion in damage across the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the southern United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s why Friday, top Democrats from those areas are demanding more help from Washington.

“We have a moral obligation to do better not only in Puerto Rico and the USVI, but to prevent the same type of inadequate response from ever happening again,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

This, just one day after President Donald Trump tweeted that the democrats inflated the number of deaths in Puerto Rico, caused by the hurricanes… and as hurricane Florence hits the Carolinas.

“That tweet affected 3,000 families that are mourning the loss of those individuals,” said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.)

Congress nearly doubled the White House’s initial recovery funding, up to $86 billion, Plaskett said. But during a tour of the damage across the islands in July that included Plaskett and other officials, she made it clear: more must be done.

“All of the public-school children in the Virgin Islands were in school for four hours a day for the entire year,” Plaskett recalled. “This year, we still do not have ten schools open.”

Much of the money would go toward infrastructure, at least in the Virgin Islands, where the electrical grid has been severely damaged by natural disasters now five times, she added.

While the lawmakers didn’t give a specific amount of money needed, they’re urging Congress and the Trump administration to free up more cash for federal agencies; and to restore the nearly $10 billion transferred from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ICE, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

“It was disastrous to make the decision,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), whose area was devastated during Hurricane Harvey in Aug. 2017. “The money is not going to any emergency needs.”

Lawmakers hope the rebuilding will all done in a way that would less the damage the next time a hurricane should strike.

“Time is the most valuable commodity, and the money that goes with it,” Pelosi said.