Puerto Rico - Hurricane Fiona - Biden Playa Salinas is flooded after the passing of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Image via AP Photo/Alejandro Granadillo

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi will officially submit the major disaster declaration request to President Biden, after seeing the damages several municipalities have suffered.

President Joe Biden called Gov. Pedro Pierluisi from Air Force One on Monday while returning from the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II.

The president reiterated the support the federal government will give to the island to help it recover from Hurricane Fiona, which made landfall on the island on Sept. 18.

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Biden and Pierluisi discussed the immediate needs of the people of the 78 municipalities affected.

More than 300 federal personnel are already working to assist with response and recovery.

Biden told Pierluisi that FEMA ( Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel to the island on Tuesday to meet with state and local officials, as well as impacted citizens and assess urgent needs that he has directed FEMA to meet. 

In the coming days, as damage assessments are conducted, the President said that the number of support personnel will increase substantially. He said he will also make sure that the federal team remains on the job until it gets done, especially given that Puerto Rico is still recovering from the damage of Hurricane María, which hit the island five years ago on Sept. 20.

On Tuesday, Pierluisi announced that he will officially submit the major disaster declaration request to President Biden, after seeing the damages several municipalities have suffered.

Biden had already issued an emergency declaration on Sunday that allows FEMA to help finance rescue work on the island.

The major disaster declaration will allow the government, municipalities, and citizens access to FEMA funds through public and individual assistance programs.

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The San Juan National Weather Service classified Hurricane Fiona as extreme on Tuesday after a preliminary analysis found that 35 inches of rain fell in isolated areas. Aside from these isolated areas, the island received 12 to 25 inches of rain, with the southeast being the most affected area with more than 25 inches.

As of Tuesday, only 20% of the island’s residents have electricity and only 40% have water.