FEMA finalizing plans to airlift Puerto Ricans to Florida and New York: report

FEMA finalizing plans to airlift Puerto Ricans to Florida and New York: report
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in the process of finalizing plans to airlift willing Puerto Ricans recovering from Hurricane Maria to the U.S. mainland, according to CBS News. 

CBS's David Begnaud was the first to report that FEMA is attempting to do an "air breach," which would allow Puerto Ricans staying in shelters on the island to be airlifted to Florida and New York. 

FEMA has never used an air breach before, according to Begnaud. 

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"At the Governor's request FEMA will be providing transportation assistance to select locations in the Continental United States," a FEMA spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. 
 
"Priority of transportation will be available to those approximately 3,000 survivors who are still residing in shelters," the statement continued. 
 
"Based on states selected by the Governor, FEMA is working to establish host-state agreements with both Florida and New York to accept those identified survivors."

The move is part of FEMA's Transitional Shelter Assistance program, which pays for displaced victims of natural disasters to stay in hotels. 

While the air breach is not mandatory, it would allow Puerto Ricans who do not have the means to leave the island on their own to seek shelter on the U.S. mainland for an unspecified amount of time. 

FEMA acting Regional Administrator Mike Byrne told CBS that anywhere from dozens to thousands of people could be airlifted as a result of the air breach. 

More than 100,000 people have evacuated from the island to Florida, according to CBS. 

The report comes as Puerto Rico continues to grapple with the devastation wrought by the storm, which left the entire island virtually without power last month. 

The Trump administration faced backlash for what some saw as a sluggish response to the natural disaster, as basic necessities such as food, water and medicine were slow to reach those in need.