After providing more than 30 million gallons of water and 60 million meals across Puerto Rico, FEMA will “officially shut off” emergency food and water aid to the island on Wednesday (Jan. 31), NPR reports. The decision to end the service is aimed at helping the island work towards rebuilding its economy following the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria in September.
While it is estimated that nearly half a million customers in Puerto Rico don’t have electricity, Alejandro De La Campa, a FEMA director in Puerto Rico, says things are slowly getting back to “normal.”
“The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal,” De La Campa said according to NPR.
FEMA will give leftover food and water supplies to the Puerto Rican government for distribution.
“If we’re giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy,” continued De La Campa. “It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico. So we need to create a balance. With the financial assistance we’re providing to families and the municipalities, they’re able to go back to the normal economy.”
Though one realm of federal aid is being shut down , Puerto Ricans can still apply for FEMA disaster assistance, as the deadline has been extended to March 20.