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Biden heads to storm-hit Puerto Rico

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President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are heading to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico on Monday, in a bid to show solidarity with a US territory whose people have complained of neglect after past natural disasters.

The high-profile trip will be the first of two this week for the Bidens, who head to Florida on Wednesday to assess the devastating damage from Hurricane Ian.

Both Puerto Rico and Florida suffered numerous deaths, widespread power outages, dangerous flooding, and severe property damage from recent rare-intensity hurricanes: first Fiona, then Ian.

No details of the Bidens’ trip have been announced, although visits to disaster zones are a regular duty of presidents.

But on Saturday, the president told a Congressional Black Caucus dinner that “our hearts… are heavy from the devastating hurricanes and storms in Puerto Rico, Florida and South Carolina. And we owe Puerto Rico much more than what they have already received.”

Twenty-five people are believed to have died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Fiona, according to the island’s public health department, which is still investigating how 12 of the deaths occurred.

The entire US territory lost power and about a million people were temporarily without drinking water when Fiona, then a powerful Category 4 storm, hit the island in mid-September.

Biden declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico on September 18.

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