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FEMA allocates $5.2M for alternate projects in Orocovis, Yabucoa

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated nearly $5.2 million to Orocovis and Yabucoa for the development of “alternate” or “improved” projects to meet their communities’ current needs.

Under FEMA’s Public Assistance program, an alternate project allows the applicant to opt not to restore the damaged facility’s pre-disaster function and instead change it, benefiting the same community if it is a permanent work. An improved project, however, restores the pre-disaster function and includes improvements or changes to its pre-disaster design.

“These projects show that our agency is focused and committed to achieving the most practical solutions for the particular situations of the municipalities and their communities. Likewise, we emphasize the importance that these works comply with established requirements and standards to withstand future disasters,” said FEMA’s disaster recovery coordinator, José G. Baquero.

In Orocovis, an alternate project with an obligation of nearly $953,200 was approved to demolish a former Head Start center to convert it into a batting cage at the Arnaldo Hernández Sports Complex, named after a beloved athlete from the Saltos neighborhood.

The new facility will benefit around 150 families and seeks to promote various sports, especially among the youth.

“The complex has several areas, and it will now have a batting field, an alternative to improve the batting skills of our children and youths,” said the municipality’s planning director, Marlon Meléndez-Ayala.

This project, which is currently in the design and auction planning stage, involves demolishing the center, clearing vegetation, preparing the site, and applying asphalt. Additional work also entails the installation of a multi-lane batting cage netting system, automatic batting machines, air conditioners, lighting fixtures and metal fencing. Nearly $19,200 was allocated for mitigation measures such as anchoring systems for air conditioning units.

Miguel A. Pérez Rivera, a recreational leader in the Saltos neighborhood, noted the facility’s extensive use by softball, baseball and soccer teams.

“It is widely used by the community and people use it for exercise and health wellness. For example, Alexander Torres, the first Puerto Rican to win the San Blas half marathon, trains at this facility every morning,” he said.

In Yabucoa, FEMA awarded more than $4.2 million for a Diagnostic and Treatment Center (CDT, in Spanish). The center’s administrator, Mariángela Alvarado-Soto, emphasized that the improvements and compliance with current building codes ensure quality, excellence and safety for patients, staff and medical faculty, creating an efficient, productive work environment and better service.

“In addition, it provides the opportunity that, should an atmospheric or other event arise, it can serve as a shelter, operation center and ensure that patients continue to receive their treatments,” she said.

The project, which also serves people from neighboring towns such as Maunabo and Humacao, includes more than $2.3 million for mitigation measures such as motorized shutters, air conditioning units’ anchoring systems and an insulation treatment for the roof.

The CDT serves 1,550 patients every month. Its improvements are focused on updating the structure to meet current codes and standards.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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