Why states took so long to dispatch disaster aid to Puerto Rico

Christopher Flavelle and Jonathan Levin, Bloomberg News on

Published in Weather News

The next day, Pennsylvania sent its first deployment through EMAC; New Jersey and Massachusetts agreed to their first such deployments two days later. Spokesmen for the states denied that money and Trump's move to cover the costs had anything to do with the decision.

"A requesting state's ability to pay for our assistance is not factored into the commonwealth's decision," Ruth Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said by email. "Pennsylvania will provide whatever EMAC assistance we can to Puerto Rico or any other state that needs our help."

"We have no control over whether and when an EMAC offer is accepted," she said.

Sprayberry said the federal government needs to come up with a better system for helping states or territories with the bad luck to get hit by a natural disaster when they're broke.

"We do need to have a contingency plan ready for something like that," Sprayberry said. "There's some states that are in pretty poor fiscal state as well. Would this be an issue with them as well if they were hit like this?"

(Flavelle reported from Washington, Levin from San Juan, Puerto Rico. With assistance from Ari Natter, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Elise Young, Henry Goldman, Jordyn Holman and Anne Mostue.)

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