31 January 2018 (Orlando Sentinel) – After a flurry of bipartisan complaints from Florida members of Congress and others, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said its plan to end distributing food and water in Puerto Rico would not take effect on Wednesday after all.

"Provision of those commodities will continue," spokesman William Booher told National Public Radio.

A different FEMA spokesperson, Delyris Aquino-Santiago, had earlier told NPR that it would "officially shut off" its food and water mission on the island on Wednesday and hand its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing.

But Booher said that date "was mistakenly provided."

The agency has been working on that transition but has not made it final, he said, so in the meantime, FEMA would continue providing food and water to communities on the island that need them. The island is still recovering from a devastating blow delivered to it by Hurricane Maria, which struck in September.

The turnabout came after politicians from both political parties reacted angrily to news of FEMA's plan and after the Puerto Rican government released a statement saying it had not been informed of the change.

On Tuesday, lawmakers called on the agency to reconsider.

During a speech on the Senate floor on 30 January 2018, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said he was 'absolutely shocked' by FEMA's decision to cut off food and water to Puerto Rico. Photo: Sen. Bill Nelson

During a speech on the Senate floor, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said he was "absolutely shocked" by FEMA's decision.

“Cutting this aid to the people of Puerto Rico, almost a third of them who still do not have electricity, it's unconscionable, and it's a travesty,’’ Nelson said. [more]

FEMA won't cut off food, water to Puerto Rico after all

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