FEMA allots $2M for critical facility generators in Puerto Rico
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated almost $2 million for the first phase of a project worth about $25 million in total. The project aims to purchase and install generators at 35 police stations and 39 government facilities of the Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority.
The critical facilities — police stations, government centers, courthouses and emergency response offices — are transformed into shelters during emergencies and need to provide their services during power outages. The hazard mitigation proposal funded through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) will allow them to do so.
FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator, José Baquero, highlighted the significance of the first phase of the project, which includes the contracting process, identifying the engineering firm that will perform the evaluation and design, calling it “an important step toward communities having more reliable facilities. By having an alternate source of energy, we help address the lack of electricity that greatly affected these places during Hurricane María.”
The facilities include police stations and government centers in towns like Aibonito, Humacao, Lajas, Las Marías, Lares, Quebradillas, and Santa Isabel. Government centers in Añasco, Ceiba, Hatillo, Jayuya, Loíza, Moca, Sabana Grande, Utuado, and Yabucoa are also included.
Public Safety Secretary Alexis Torres said his department will continue to work with FEMA to move these hazard mitigation projects forward. “This time, we will impact 35 police stations with the installation of electric generators, which will allow us to provide service to residents during electric service interruptions. Our commitment, together with the Public Buildings Authority, is to impact as many police stations as possible throughout the island.”
The HMGP-funded project is not the only one aimed at providing backup power to municipal facilities. A municipal project in Cabo Rojo received an obligation of more than $86,000 and was fully funded by the HMGP program. The generator purchased for the facility will provide backup power to the Municipal Police headquarters and the Office of Emergency Management.
According to Cabo Rojo Emergency Management Director Eliot Santiago, the generator benefits three facilities. He explained, “The impact of having the generator is that every time there is a power outage, we can count on having our communications system up, the 9-1-1 system, and the system that links emergency agencies with 9-1-1. Our phones need internet to work. In addition, the Emergency Operations Center operates from the Emergency Management building, and computers are linked to the system where people report their damage and fill the forms we send to Emergency Management (at state level) to request or report any need from the community.”
Other proposals under HMGP for security installations include wind retrofitting, flood protection and the creation of safe rooms.
The executive director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, said that with the multimillion-dollar obligation, the Public Buildings Authority “has at its disposal the Working Capital Advance request that would advance 20 percent of the $2 million to begin the execution of the scope of work approved in this first phase. Through the energy resilience provided by the installation of these generators in police stations and government centers, the continuity of services to citizens is guaranteed to safeguard their lives in times of emergency.”
HMGP has approved almost $2.8 billion since 2017 to address the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, focusing on preparing the island to face future disasters.
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