US islands ask federal govt for help in wake of disasters

Leaders of U.S. territories including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are asking the federal government for more help in their efforts to recover from natural disasters that hit more than a year ago.

Governors for both Caribbean territories told a Senate committee on Tuesday that federal funds have been denied or released too slowly to help rebuild roads, hospitals and schools as another hurricane season approaches. They said the U.S. government is no longer fully funding debris removal, demolition of unsafe structures and other projects, even though much work remains after the strikes by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the government wants to ensure the money is being used wisely, but acknowledged the challenges the islands are facing.