United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced a public health emergency on Wednesday for Puerto Rico after the island was battered by Hurricane Fiona. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/e75523cd031d801e707a14ce0bea1aee/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced a public health emergency on Wednesday for Puerto Rico after the island was battered by Hurricane Fiona. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 21 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico on Wednesday after severe flooding from Hurricane Fiona.

The declaration gives the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services beneficiaries and their health care providers greater flexibility to meet emergency needs.

“We will do all we can to assist officials in Puerto Rico with responding to the impact of Hurricane Fiona,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier 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.”

In response to the storm, HHS deployed 25 people to Puerto Rico to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other emergency officials to aid the response to the Hurricane.

Fiona caused massive damage to the island, leaving more than a million people without power as of Tuesday. Puerto Rico received more than 2 feet of rain and saw winds in excess of 100 mph.

Fiona strengthened into a major hurricane on Tuesday and began to bring heavy wind and rain to Turks and Caicos. A storm is considered a major hurricane when maximum sustained winds exceed 110 mph.



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