Speed Reads

don't forget puerto rico

Hurricane Maria evacuees granted 20-day extension in FEMA shelters

Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria can stay another 20 days in the mainland's temporary shelters.

A federal judge decided Tuesday to extend FEMA's Temporary Shelter Assistance program, allowing about 1,700 evacuees to stay in mainland hotels until July 23, NBC News reports. The official extension comes three days after the program's original end date, when another judge blocked FEMA from sending overdue beneficiaries home until Wednesday.

Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico in September, leaving millions without electricity and thousands displaced to the continental U.S. The island was in a recession when the hurricane hit, and much of the island is still without power. So evacuees don't have the means to restore homes they've lost if they're sent back to Puerto Rico.

That's why civil rights group LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed a lawsuit Saturday demanding FEMA continue shelter assistance, per NBC. The activist group claims U.S. government agencies haven't done enough to help displaced Puerto Ricans rebuild, and the judge in Tuesday's decision ruled in LatinoJustice's favor. FEMA-funded hotel stays will last through July 23, and a formal hearing later this summer will decide if the program can be extended further.