Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico on Wednesday due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Fiona.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has deployed a 15-person task force from its National Disaster Medical System and a 10-person management team to Puerto Rico.
The agency said staff members from the National Disaster Medical System, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are prepared to provide services and support if needed.
“We will do all we can to assist officials in Puerto Rico with responding to the impacts of Hurricane Fiona,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are working closely with territory health authorities and our federal partners and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support.”
According to local reports from Puerto Rico, more than a million customers on the island are currently without power. El Nuevo Día, the largest newspaper in Puerto Rico, reported on Wednesday that only about a quarter of customers have access to electricity.
This declaration from HHS comes three days after President Biden issued an emergency declaration in Puerto Rico, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief efforts.