SAN JUAN – Elected and outgoing mayors requested on Thursday, to give priority and a sense of urgency to the issue of the over 25 billion dollars under FEMA’s 428 Public Assistance Program, with the endorsement of COR3 (Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience) , after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María, for the repair and reconstruction of public buildings, structures, non-profit, utilities, parks, roads, among others.
“We have before us an unprecedented challenge that requires a priority commitment to the social, emotional and economic well-being of our people. This includes not allowing a single penny we can get to go to waste to make this possible. The funds from the FEMA 428 Public Assistance Program are a right and we just need to do the same for them to be obligated to us. From now on, I am in that process and also requesting the extension of the deadline to be able to comply with our people properly and for what they elected us, ”said Jorge“ Jorgito ”Pérez, newly elected mayor of Utuado in written statements.
He explained that these funds must be fair and negotiated by the mayors still in their seats, along with those chosen by the people, according to the law that creates the Federal Assistance Public Assistance Agency. It is created as a mechanism to accelerate the processes of recovery from the damage suffered by disasters. Likewise, community leaders are coming together to urge their peers, with a sense of urgency, to continue the efforts or request help so that this money is finally obligated and that, as we have said, it is an acquired right and has already been assigned. to Puerto Rico.
On the other hand, December 31st is the deadline to have negotiated the required fixed cost estimates (Fixed Cost Estimates), after having a specific plan for the use of said funds. For this reason, FEMA is also being asked to extend said date since it has not been fair taking into account all the emergencies experienced after the disaster of Hurricanes Irma and María.
On the subject of the deadline, it is understood that there is a possibility, using as a basis the most recent FEMA guide, published last February 10, (Public Assistance Alternative Procedures – Section 428, Guide for Permanent Work for FEMA-4339 -DR-PR), if the goals of the recipient of the benefit are monitored, prior to establishing a last day, specifically, to comply with the requirements.
“For the municipalities these funds are extremely important as they represent the reconstruction of the infrastructure and the reactivation of the economy. We trust and demand that the deadline be extended to be able to review and present the due plans and that the money already allocated to the municipalities be obligated, ”said Carlos“ Tito ”Ramírez, recently elected mayor in Arecibo.
At the same time, another factor that has affected the delay in the granting of the over $ 25 billion in funds in the FEMA Public Assistance Program are the changes in the FEMA guidelines and the misinformation of the recipients of not knowing how to handle the administrative money that FEMA allocates to you to hire specialists in these programs.
“We cannot allow all these billions of dollars, which correspond to us by right and which have already been allocated, to be lost to the detriment of the best interests of the well-being of the residents of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico. It should also be clear that it would be contrary to the spirit of the program to allow this to pass through the hands of those who have been ineffective in publicizing the program’s procedures as they were to make acceptable. At the same time, it encourages us to see the attitude and action of the elected mayors, many of them together with those who are still exercising their leadership in their respective towns, as well as many government leaders, to take action to claim and process the requirements to achieve the reconstruction of the Island that, without any doubt, will result in an important development of the economy including the creation of thousands of jobs. We hope that others will take the example, we will achieve this unprecedented rebound, including the opportunity to extend the delivery date of estimates to achieve such a laudable country purpose “, said Iván Casals, president of BC Peabody, a consulting firm, with more than 14 years of experience in handling federal funds, and more than 1,500 clients throughout the Island.
In summary, what is sought with this effort is that these funds can be used, which are an extraordinary way of investing the money necessary to rebuild the damage caused by Irma and María, which, in turn, will allow the island’s economy to rise.
“It is urgent that we continue on this path that we started a long time ago, that has encountered so many obstacles, but that has taken on a new air with the faithful commitment of all mayors, all rowing towards the same side: the rise of our economy that, during For the past three years, it has been plagued by natural disasters. It is a unique and impossible opportunity to pass up, ”insisted Casals.