FEMA Too Ashamed to Meet Puerto Rico Mayor

October 31, 2017

Newsweek:

The mayor of San Juan says the Trump administration is so “afraid” to discuss its “deplorable” response to Hurricane Maria that it hastily canceled a meeting between her and the Federal Emergency Management Agency after she had flown all the way to Washington on Tuesday.

Carmen Yulin Cruz said she was supposed to meet with FEMA Administrator Brock Long to discuss the agency response to the September 20 hurricane, which to this day has left 75 percent of the island without power—only to discover the meeting had been scrubbed and not even been rescheduled after she landed in the capital.

“It was deplorable how FEMA acted against the Puerto Rican people,” said Cruz. “What are they afraid of? The truth has to be told and people all over the world has seen how the Trump administration has treated Puerto Rico.”

It is unclear why FEMA canceled the meeting. Earlier this month, Long said Cruz’s complaints about the agency’s recovery effort amount to just “political noise.”

“We filtered out the mayor a long time ago,” Long told ABC News. “We don’t have time for the political noise.”

But other groups are listening to Cruz. The UN’s top human rights panel said on Monday that the U.S territory’s 3.4 million residents are being treated unfairly by their own American government.

“We can’t fail to note the dissimilar urgency and priority given to the emergency response in Puerto Rico, compared to the U.S. states affected by hurricanes in recent months,” said Leilani Farha, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to housing.

“All reconstruction efforts should be guided by international human rights standards, ensuring that people can rebuild where they have lived and close to their communities,” the full panel’s statement added. “Reconstruction should aim to increase the resilience of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, housing and hospitals against future natural disasters.”

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico has cancelled a controversial 300 million dollar contract with a 2 man company, which had been hired to undertake rebuilding the island’s shattered electrical grid.  Some observers noted connections between the company and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Fox News:

The Puerto Rican government’s power company is going to scrap its $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings once it wraps up current work on Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, power company director Ricardo Ramos said Sunday.

Ramos said he’s bowing to a demand by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Roselló, who had called Sunday for the island’s power company to cancel the contract with the Montana company from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s hometown.

Roughly 70 percent of the U.S. territory has been languishing without power more than a month after Maria struck on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 154 mph. Ramos says the cancellation will delay pending work by 10 to 12 weeks but will not affect current work.

The two-year-old company had just two full-time employees when the storm hit last month, but says it is contracting with hundreds of workers for the Puerto Rico project.

“I have petitioned the board of PREPA to invoke the cancellation clause so that after the current immediate work that is being done is finished, that contract is no longer available,” Roselló said Sunday, according to BuzzFeed.

Reuters:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a $300 million contract that Puerto Rico’s government power company awarded to a U.S.-based energy startup, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The contract between Whitefish Energy Holdings and Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power utility was widely criticized after media reports showed it was awarded without a competitive public bidding process.

Whitefish had more than 350 workers and 2,500 tons of heavy equipment on the ground for rebuilding electrical lines destroyed in Hurricane Maria, raising concern about Puerto Rico’s management of federal disaster-relief funds to the island, the WSJ reported.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, multiple congressional committees and local auditors have begun requesting documents about the deal, according to the WSJ.

A Whitefish spokesman, Ken Luce, told Reuters the company was not aware of any such investigation and that it “is committed to full cooperation with any inquiry or investigation.”

An FBI official in San Juan, who requested anonymity, told Reuters “we can neither confirm nor deny” the Journal’s story.

A number of U.S. lawmakers have raised questions about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s connections with Whitefish.

Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Peter DeFazio asked the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general in a letter to investigate the contract’s execution, its terms, and “whether there was any political impetus behind the contract.”

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “FEMA Too Ashamed to Meet Puerto Rico Mayor”

  1. wpNSAlito Says:

    Although Whitefish is a guppy-sized company, please note that most contract builders hire subcontractors and labor as needed, and the number of core employees doesn’t generally reflect the number of total number of workers on a project.


    • What is needed is a resilient network that will cope with even stronger hurricanes which are coming.
      That would mean redesigning not just replacing the busted bits of the Network with all it’s shortcomings in that environment.
      I doubt a 2 man operation has that expertise or capability.
      Just a repair would be a waste of time and money and in their case an expensive one


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