Trump administration announces $3.7 billion for Puerto Rico

(AP) — The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will award a $3.7 billion grant to help Puerto Rico rebuild water and wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and reservoirs damaged by Hurricane Maria more than three years ago.

The administration has been slow to release $44 billion in money that was approved for Puerto Rico following the devastating hurricane. But the White House said that once the water funding is allocated, the Trump administration will have obligated more than $40 billion to the island’s recovery.

Trump has spent much of his administration blasting Puerto Rican officials as corrupt and inept, and he had opposed spending federal dollars to rebuild a power grid and other infrastructure that was wiped out by Maria in September 2017.

But in September, he set aside his past bitter treatment of the island and its leaders, with his administration approving a $13 billion infusion that mostly went to rebuild an electrical grid that was wiped out by the storm and resulted in the longest blackout in U.S. history. That announcement came as Trump courted voters from Puerto Rico, most notably in the swing state of Florida.

The grant announced Tuesday covers 90% of the estimated costs of the water and wastewater improvement projects.

Even now, three years after the storm, thousands of homes are still damaged in Puerto Rico. The island has also been hit by a series of damaging earthquakes and remains mired in a deep economic crisis, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.