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FEMA Paid For Only 75 Funerals In Puerto Rico–2,432 Asked For Assistance

September 12, 2018

This is simply dreadful.

Think of how you would feel, and be impacted, if this had been your family.

FEMA approved just 3% of applications for funeral assistance from more than 2,000 Puerto Rican families who lost loved ones after Hurricane Maria, according to a letter the agency head wrote to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In response to an earlier letter from Warren, Brock Long, director of FEMA, wrote on Aug. 14 that as of July 30, his agency had received 2,431 requests for funeral assistance from Puerto Ricans related to the hurricane — they approved just 75 of them, meaning 97% have either been rejected or have not received a decision almost a year after Maria hit the island. FEMA’s funeral assistance is intended to help people who have lost loved ones in disaster situations pay for funeral costs, including caskets, mortuary services, burial plots, and cremations.

Although Long did not give a specific reason in his letter for the rejections, he pointed to FEMA’s requirements for funeral assistance. To qualify, Puerto Ricans had to provide a death certificate or letter from a government official “that clearly indicates the death was attributed to the emergency or disaster, either directly or indirectly,”

But getting that information was impossible for many families because, as the Puerto Rican government recently admitted, officials were not counting hurricane-related deaths correctly. Two weeks ago Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló admitted that authorities vastly undercounted how many people were dying because of the hurricane, partly because they failed to provide clear instructions to doctors and funeral homes on how death certificates should be filled out. He updated the official death count from 64 to an estimated 2,975 people, after months of insistence in the immediate aftermath of the storm that there were no errors

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