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Florida lawmakers blast FEMA move to cut off supplies to Puerto Rico

Water and food at issue.
From left: Brenda Irizarry, Rep. Kathy Castor. Rep. Darren Soto and Claudia Sofía Báez Solá, talk during an event Tuesday morning to discuss the Trump administration's response to Puerto Rico. (Rep. Castor's office)
From left: Brenda Irizarry, Rep. Kathy Castor. Rep. Darren Soto and Claudia Sofía Báez Solá, talk during an event Tuesday morning to discuss the Trump administration's response to Puerto Rico. (Rep. Castor's office)
Published Jan. 30, 2018
Updated Jan. 30, 2018

WASHINGTON – Florida lawmakers on Tuesday criticized a decision by FEMA to end shipments of water and food to Puerto Rico, saying "now is not the time to remove this life-sustaining assistance."

"Puerto Ricans in some parts of the island are struggling to make ends meet with limited access to food, water and other supplies. Many towns are still inaccessible by vehicle, making it difficult to distribute adequate supplies. Families will continue to leave the island if their basic needs are not met – the most fundamental of which are food and water," read a letter to FEMA signed by Sens. Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio and a bipartisan group of Florida House members as well as representatives from other states.

In an interview at the Capitol, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, call it an "outrageous decision" by FEMA, which has said the aid is hurting the local economy because people aren't buying goods.

Castor in some areas, San Juan in particular, that position is justified but not across the board.

Castor and Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, are bringing to the State of the Union guests who have dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and to make the case that the Trump administration has bungled the recovery.

From a release:

Brenda Irizarry, U.S. Rep. Castor's guest, took immediate action to mobilize relief efforts after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, helping lead an effort that has so far collected and transported some 2.5-3 million pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico. Claudia Sofía Báez Solá, U.S. Rep. Soto's guest, was a student at the University of Puerto Rico until Hurricane Maria made landfall and now continues her education at Valencia College in Orlando, FL while coordinating efforts to help students facing similar challenges. More than 240,000 Puerto Ricans live in U.S. Reps. Castor and Soto's congressional districts.