To date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated more than $122 million to repair and rebuild public buildings represented in 215 projects, the agency confirmed.
The funds will help municipal facilities, private nonprofits, hospitals, universities and other eligible entities recover “so they can better provide services to the communities they serve,” it said in a statement.
In the last 30 days, a total of 48 projects to repair buildings including structural components, electrical systems, inventory replacement and equipment were approved.
This is the largest number of projects obligated under the agency’s public assistance category of in a single month so far, agency officials said.
“This will be a banner year for recovery efforts on the island. We have set the bar high and these obligations are proof of the extraordinary work that is taking place every day to help rebuild a more resilient Puerto Rico,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alex Amparo.
Meanwhile, Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Executive Director Ottmar Chávez played up the importance of the partnership between the local and federal governments in the recovery.
“The increase in the obligation of funds for recovery projects is due to the efforts and collaboration between the COR3 team and FEMA to move this process forward,” Chávez said.
“Undoubtedly, there is still work to be done, as we face several emergencies, but the work has not stopped. COR3 maintains constant communication with sub-recipients so that they can carry out every action in compliance and funds can be disbursed when required,” he said.
“Each sector is handled with the same attention, because those who will benefit are the communities in each area of the island,” said Chávez.
Among the obligations is more than $1 million to repair the Lajas municipal commercial center in Lajas, whose stores have been closed since Hurricane María hit in September 2017. Lajas was one of the hardest hit areas in the south.
“The center is the town’s economic engine. It bolsters the local economy, generating income from rent for the municipality,” said Lajas Mayor Marcos A. “Turin” Irizarry-Pagán.
“One of the benefits of the commercial center is that the community can do all its shopping there, keeping business activity local,” he said.
The municipality of Santa Isabel also recently had two obligations for more than $23,000 to address repairs to its fire station, which is currently being used as a municipal office, as well as repairs to its municipal police headquarters.
Besides municipal buildings, private nonprofits like the Hogares Teresa Toda in Loíza are also receiving federal disaster assistance. With an obligation of nearly $64,000, the home for girls and others who have been victims of abuse and neglect will be able to repair its main building, chapel, educational building and dormitories.
Another private nonprofit receiving federal support is the Centro Margarita Inc. in Cidra, which offers rehabilitation services to children with special needs. An obligation of roughly $15,000 was approved for repairs to the center’s accounting offices and rehabilitation rooms.