Trump, Puerto Rico governor to discuss hurricane aid at White House

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Oct 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello are due to meet at the White House on Thursday to discuss rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria devastated the island a month ago, the White House said.

The Trump administration and Congress are considering further assistance for the bankrupt U.S. territory as it seeks to recover from its worst natural disaster in 90 years.

The catastrophic storm struck on Sept. 20, causing widespread flooding and damaging homes, roads and other infrastructure.

Less than 20 percent of the 3.4 million Americans who live on the island have electricity, after the power grid was wrecked, and 35 percent still lack drinking water.

13 PHOTOS
Searching for water in Puerto Rico
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Searching for water in Puerto Rico
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Madelyn Matos washes her hair as her boyfriend Jan Marcos Chaparro cleans his car with mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
A man carries a case of water away from an HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter after soldiers working with 101st Airborne Division's "Dustoff" unit dropped off relief supplies during recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria, in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "JACKSON TIRADO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Madelyn Matos (L) and her boyfriend Jan Marcos Chaparro do their laundry with mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
A family waits as a man fills drums with potable water brought to their small mountain community once a day after Hurricane Maria crippled utilities near Guayama, Puerto Rico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
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Disaster costs are expected to run into the tens of billions of dollars. The U.S. Congress is currently working on boosting funding for emergency relief as well as a $4.9 billion loan to help Rossello's cash-strapped government, which is poised to run out of money for payroll and essential services at the end of the month.

"The meeting is related to the current recovery and response in Puerto Rico, and the long-term recovery process and what it’s going to take to recover in all aspects," said Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for the territory's government.

"We need to think about rebuilding Puerto Rico in a holistic way. All the crops are all dead, agriculture is dead, housing is destroyed," he said, noting more than 50,000 homes were destroyed and more than 660,000 individuals have so far filed claims with the federal government.

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Donald Trump's visit to Puerto Rico
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Donald Trump's visit to Puerto Rico
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 03: President Donald Trump and Melania Trump greet U.S Air Force airmen as he arrives at the Muniz Air National Guard Base as he makes a visit after Hurricane Maria hit the island on October 3, 2017 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The President has been criticized by some that say the government's response has been inadequate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump throws rolls of paper towels into a crowd of local residents affected by Hurricane Maria as he visits Calgary Chapel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello (L) as they take their seats for a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump visits with residents while visiting Puerto Rico to survey relief efforts following Hurricane Maria in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017 REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he walks through a neighborhood damaged by Hurricane Maria with first lady Melania Trump as the president tours hurricane damage in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with residents as first lady Melania Trump (C) and U.S. Rep and Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Jenniffer Gonzalez (R) look on as the president visits areas damaged by Hurricane Maria in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump greets troops as he arrives aboard Air Force One, to survey hurricane damage, at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz before a briefing to survey hurricane damage, at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, sitting between Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello and first lady Melania Trump, sits down to a briefing on hurricane damage, at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House in Washington, U.S., on their way to view storm damage in Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump throws rolls of paper towels into a crowd of local residents affected by Hurricane Maria as he visits Calgary Chapel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump (L), wearing boots, arrive aboard Air Force One, to survey hurricane damage, at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit residents affected by Hurricane in Guaynabo, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria thrashed through the US territory, much of the islands remains short of food and without access to power or drinking water. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit residents affected by Hurricane in Guaynabo, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria thrashed through the US territory, much of the islands remains short of food and without access to power or drinking water. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump throws rolls of paper towels to a crowd of local residents affected by Hurricane Maria as he visits a disaster relief distribution center at Calgary Chapel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet troops as they depart the USS Kearsarge off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with local residents during a walking tour of areas damaged by Hurricane Maria in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Rossello asked Trump on Oct. 2 to expand the disaster declaration that provides for federal emergency services to allow federal funds to be spent on fixing damaged schools, buildings, and power plants.

The governor has also asked the White House and Congress for at least $4.6 billion in block grants and other types of funding. The White House budget office asked departments and agencies to provide estimates of funding needs by Oct. 24.

Trump visited the Caribbean island earlier this month to view the damage and meet with Rossello. But he and White House aides have suggested there would be a limit to how much help Puerto Rico could expect from Washington to solve its long-term issues.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Richard Cowan; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Tom Brown)

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