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FEMA assigns $18.7M for recovery, including $833K for La Fortaleza repairs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it has assigned another $18.7 million in funds to continue recovery efforts throughout Puerto Rico, including $832,978 to make repairs at the governor’s mansion.

La Fortaleza, as the historic structure is known, will get repairs to the roof, second floor, human resource and finance offices in the Yellow Palace/Real Audiencia at the office of the governor, FEMA confirmed.

The project is among 146 on a list that received funding assignments on Mar. 7-19, said the agency, which is working jointly with the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, known as COR3, on recovery efforts in the wake of the 2017 hurricanes.

As the island continues to safeguard its residents with social distancing and self-quarantine measures, FEMA remains focused on the island’s recovery and on approving funds for permanent work projects, it said.

“We have taken the necessary precautions to preserve our workforce and with more than 92% of our staff being local, we are prepared to support the government of Puerto Rico during this time while remaining focused on moving the island’s recovery efforts forward,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alex Amparo.

COR3 Executive Director Ottmar Chávez said “despite having to modify our way of doing business during this time, we have taken the necessary measures to continue our work, especially maintaining constant communications and leveraging every technological tool at our disposal so as not to interrupt the recovery process. The team at COR3 is committed and dedicated to ensuring projects are developed and funds are obligated.”

FEMA works with COR3 through the agency’s Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and government agencies.

Included in this current round of funding is more than $1 million for repairs to several roads and a bridge in Yauco. More than $850,000 was approved for repairs to the Ají Road located in Barrio Duey and another $107,000 was awarded to address hurricane-related damage to the El Chapulín bridge in Barrio Barinas. 

Nearly $60,000 was obligated as well for architecture and engineering design costs for repairs to other roads and for culvert replacement.

“These obligations are very important for Yauco. This will help us offer better access to our communities. Right now, this is of great help to our city,” said Yauco Mayor Luigi Torres.

Among the obligations for repairs to public buildings are more than $508,000 for repairs to the Guayama Theatre in the town square. The work includes replacing carpets and seats on the mezzanine as well as repairs to dressing rooms, the lobby area, main theatre room, roof and entrance. 

A total of more than $7.9 million has been obligated to the municipality so far, representing 23 projects that address hurricane-related damage to roads, bridges, public buildings and recreational facilities and other work, the agencies said. 

To date, nearly $6.5 billion has been approved for Puerto Rico under FEMA’s Public Assistance program.

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Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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