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FEMA Fails to Address the Needs of Hurricane Maria Victims

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FEMA Fails to Address the Needs of Hurricane Maria Victims

CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, communications@latinojustice.org, 212-739-7581

LatinoJustice has been engaged in a lengthy legal battle with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over its failure to adequately address the needs of Hurricane Maria victims on a range of issues. Today, Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, issued the following statement on the impending termination of Temporary Shelter Assistance and subsequent eviction of the hundreds of families.

“Today hundreds of Puerto Rican Hurricane Maria evacuees living in temporary housing in the U.S. will be evicted based on FEMA’s decision to terminate assistance under its Temporary Shelter Assistance program. FEMA could have gone beyond a strict interpretation of the law and provided the humane treatment of these evacuees that a federal court in Massachusetts found would be the right thing to do, in the case of Asencio v. FEMA. Yet FEMA refuses to do so, adding to the trauma that these families have suffered at the hands of government neglect.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF recognizes the need to use all the legal means at our disposal to continue to challenge these decisions by this federal administration. We stand committed to helping Puerto Rico recover from the miscalculations and lack of preparedness at all levels of government. The President recently bragged about how great his administration responded to Hurricane Maria. Our clients experiences, the death toll of over 4,000 lives, and the facts prove him wrong. Again.”

Background Reading

  1. First Amended Class Action Complaint Seeking Injunctive and Declaratory Relief: This Complaint outlines our legal arguments on why FEMA should provide more aid for Hurricane Maria victims and includes comparative analysis on how the response to Hurricane Maria fell significantly short of the aid that was provided in Hurricane Katrina, Harvey, and Irma. Download the complaint here.
  2. Legal and Journalistic Organizations Sue FEMA for Failing to Release Records On Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts: By working with groups in DC and San Juan, we submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to demand background documents detailing FEMA's response post Hurricane Maria so we can find out more about how exactly FEMA failed our community and hold them accountable. Read about it here.
  3. Judge Orders Compliance with the Voting Rights Act for Spanish Speaking Voters Before 2018 Midterms in Florida: This legal challenge seeks to force compliance with the Voting Rights Act which requires Spanish language materials and assistance to be provided according to 4(e). This benefits all Puerto Ricans, including victims of Hurricane Maria, in helping eliminate barriers to vote in the 2018 Midterms. Read about filing here.