Three years after Hurricanes Irma and María, Puerto Rico is still recovering from the devastation to communities, homes and property, businesses, and infrastructure that was caused by the hurricanes. At the same time, Puerto Rico has faced destruction caused by an earthquake swarm, which began in 2019 and is continuing into 2020, as well as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These consecutive disasters have complicated response and recovery for each incident.
This report is intended to provide information to help inform Congress’s understanding of the status of Puerto Rico’s recovery, including a recap of the forms of federal assistance provided to Puerto Rico, as well as considerations for improving these and future recovery efforts. To that end, this report begins by describing the impact Hurricanes Irma and María had on Puerto Rico, and the roles of the Government of Puerto Rico and of the federal government in administering and implementing disaster recovery programs. It describes in detail the support provided by the above-listed federal assistance programs, and it discusses the recovery challenges Puerto Rico may face in the future. Additionally, the Appendices to this report describe Puerto Rico’s ongoing earthquake swarm and how it has affected Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts following the 2017 hurricanes; sources of recovery program data; detailed information on building codes; and additional Congressional Research Service products on topics relevant to understanding the underlying federal assistance programs and the status of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico.