Guaynabo – The recovery after Hurricane Maria has reached a historic figure in the allocation of funds by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, for its acronym in English).
Three years after one of the largest and most complex disasters in FEMA’s 40 years, nearly $ 7.3 billion has been approved to help rebuild the Island, from critical infrastructure to historic buildings.
Over $ 4.2 billion of approved federal aid money has been disbursed.
To date, a total of over 4,800 projects have funding obligations, the vast majority to repair and rebuild roads, bridges and public buildings as well as heritage treasures such as theaters, public squares and other places of great value. cultural in the municipalities.
The Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, known as COR3, has disbursed close to $ 450 million to municipal governments for these purposes, resulting in an injection to the local economy and a stimulus to the job market.
“This year we have seen that the commitment of our team is unwavering. Much work remains to be done and I am confident that together with the government of Puerto Rico we will achieve our goal of a Puerto Rico that will be the model of resilience in the Caribbean, ”commented the federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. from the United States, Alex Amparo.
To date, funds have been allocated for some 1,200 streets and bridges in municipalities throughout the Island, most in the areas most affected by the floods and landslides caused by the storm.
Utuado tops the list with 153 projects under this category, both for repairs and for architecture and engineering studies.
Currently, the municipality is in the auction process to start the works.
Similarly, Jayuya and Villalba have reconstructed highways for the benefit of their communities. The mayor of Villalba, Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz, indicated that the Cerro Gordo community bridge will begin construction soon and will have a useful life of 70 years.
“This project has an obligation of funds of over 2.5 million dollars and benefits more than 500 families,” added the municipal executive.
Ponce is another municipality that is also making progress in its recovery.
The drainage pump system that is essential to prevent flooding will begin the bidding process this month
“The reconstruction that begins in our city thanks to the first 105 projects that will begin to work in the coming weeks represents the creation of jobs and an increase in economic activity in Ponce. For every million invested, 50 local jobs are generated, ”said the mayor, María“ Mayita ”Meléndez Altieri.
Barracks and Command Improvements
Public security facilities such as police stations, headquarters and emergency systems will also be strengthened with over $ 2.7 million in federal funds.
The grants include funds for the barracks and headquarters in Aguadilla, Añasco, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Hormigueros, Humacao, Las Marías, Maricao, Mayagüez, Orocovis, Ponce and San Juan.
“The repairs that will be carried out in the Police barracks will help us maintain proper working conditions for our personnel and the citizens who visit us. With the collaboration of FEMA, it has been possible to improve the structures that were affected by Hurricane María and the various emergencies that have affected our area, ”said the Commissioner of the Puerto Rico Police, Henry Escalera Rivera.
Resilient health centers
As part of the efforts to strengthen the health system on the island, approximately 116 million dollars have been allocated to repair nearly 100 facilities that offer health services such as hospitals and medical care centers.
Among them is an item of over $ 3.4 million for the Río Piedras Medical Center as well as a grant of over $ 1 million for the CDT of Lajas, the only health center in the municipality.
Another key element in damage recovery is identifying opportunities to increase the resilience of the projects that will be part of the reconstruction.
To this end, approximately $ 153 million of approved project appropriations are used to help reduce loss of life and property.
“Three years have passed since we faced the unprecedented event that Hurricane Maria left us. Although there is work to be done, certainly in the last year we have made progress in the reconstruction process. We will continue working hard for as long as it takes to make the Island stronger and more resilient, ”said COR3 executive director, Ottmar Chávez.
For the new federal coordinator in disaster recovery for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, José Baquero Tirado, “the achievements in the last three years on the Island are historic, and they also open the way for assignments never before views for our Energy, Water and Education sectors. The changes that are coming will be momentous for Puerto Rico. At this time, coordination between the government of Puerto Rico and the federal government is key to the development of our large-scale projects. Solutions have been identified to guarantee a more resilient infrastructure, works that will trace a path that points to a better life for our future generations ”, concluded the official.
For more information on Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria, visit fema.gov/es/disaster/4339 and recuperacion.pr. Follow us on our social networks at Facebook.com/FEMAPuertoRico, Facebook.com/COR3pr and Twitter @ COR3pr.