FEMA allocates $12.7M to Puerto Rico National Guard for permanent works
The Puerto Rico National Guard, one of the vital components during emergency situations on the island, was granted an obligation of nearly $12.7 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
These funds will address eight permanent repair projects at several facilities, including its headquarters and several training centers, the federal agency said.
Among the work to be completed are repairs at the facilities in Aibonito, Arecibo, Ceiba, Mayagüez, Ponce, San Juan, Utuado and Vega Baja. This includes the replacement of floors and walls, as well as technical aspects such as wiring systems and transformers. Likewise, the roof drains and the communication tower at the Puerta de Tierra building will be replaced.
“These funds will help maintain the high standard of service the National Guard provides us in times of emergency. By having strengthened structures, we help Puerto Rico’s recovery continue to move forward through the various disasters that these brave men and women are currently supporting,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico José G. Baquero.
The National Guard has about 8,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen, and more than 600 civilian employees.
Its Engineering, Water Purification, Transportation, Aviation, Communications, Military Police, Medical Units, Civil Support Team, Firefighters and Boat Detachment units are activated in one way or another during emergencies.
“This obligation represents extraordinary news for the entire National Guard and the people of Puerto Rico. Hurricane María affected our infrastructure like no other atmospheric phenomenon did before,” said the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, Major General José J. Reyes.
“While we made the necessary adjustments to minimize the impact, these funds symbolize one more step towards the normalization of our operations across the island,” he said.
Likewise, Reyes mentioned that the impact of these funds will be of positive benefit to the surrounding communities, as these structures will allow the units to carry out their trainings more efficiently and will help maintain the value of nearby properties.
The Puerta de Tierra facilities in San Juan consist of historic buildings that were built between 1930 and 1956 and are located in an archeologically sensitive area considered as a critical habitat for some endangered species.
The repairs will comply with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) criteria and other laws and regulations that apply to this type of zone. Also, due to the historic nature of the structures, the repairs will comply with state and federal regulations as well as with the endorsement of the National Historic Landmarks Program.
Of this allocation, more than $915,800 is earmarked for hazard mitigation measures to prevent similar damage in the future. Some of these measures include reinforcing gutters, installing fixed window panels and replacing windows and doors with ones that are resistant to impacts and wind.
Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, or COR3, said the Puerto Rico National Guard is an important part of our law and order structure.
“It acts in times of emergencies and natural disasters to safeguard the lives and property of Puerto Ricans,” he said. “Through this allocation of funds by FEMA, resilient structures will be established to provide aid and services to citizens in an effective and safe manner. We at COR3 recognize the urgency of this work and will be facilitators in the reconstruction process.”