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FEMA expects to OK $640M in earthquake recovery projects by year’s end

Public housing facilities, police operations centers, childcare centers and libraries are some of the municipal buildings that will be repaired with a multimillion-dollar allocation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Nearly half of the $640 million allocation, or $309 million, is for 488 permanent construction projects that include other structures damaged by the earthquakes that rattled Puerto Rico in January 2020.

“With these funds, the municipalities can renovate the affected spaces to offer services once again for their communities,” said FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José G. Baquero.

“The recovery supports a better quality of life for the residents of these municipalities and the reconstruction is directed to that end,” he said.

The funds for municipalities along Puerto Rico’s southern, central, and western regions include seven public housing complexes in Guánica and Ponce. Public Housing Administration Administrator Alejandro Salgado-Colón said more than 2,300 people will have better and safer homes after the repairs are completed with the approved funds.

“After the earthquakes that shook mostly the southern region of the island, we have looked for ways to continue addressing the damage that put the homes of the affected families at risk,” said Salgado-Colón.

“Truthfully, this obligation of funds represents one more step toward disaster recovery. There is still a long road ahead, but we’re sure that, with the collaboration of the federal agencies, we will accomplish a complete reconstruction for the benefit of our residents,” he said.

One of the facilities affected was the Montalva Community Center in Guánica. The work to be completed with the obligation of more than $779,000 includes demolishing the center, where workshops and other social and community development activities will be held after reconstruction.

“The Montalva Community Center has been a multiuse center that has served the community with social events that make an impact,” said Guánica Mayor Ismael Rodríguez-Ramos.

“With this allocation we’ll rebuild a facility that serves all generations of people from Guánica; the younger ones with workshops that encourage development, as well as our elderly, by being a place of gathering and welcome that serves them in different ways,” he said.

The repairs also consider public and community service spaces, as is the case of some centers that serve the more than 22,000 residents of Lajas. Funds were earmarked for the city hall and the center where the municipal police station and the Municipal Emergency Management Office are located.

In addition, repairs will be completed at the Multi-Service Center for the Elderly, which has an enrollment of more than 90 people and provides meals and activities for those who are bedridden.

“This significant obligation of federal funds will give peace of mind to the communities and the opportunity to begin to rebuild their living spaces,” said Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy.

“To date, COR3 has disbursed $258 million to address matters related to this disaster that affected us two years ago and we are committed to continue being facilitators in this difficult task,” he said.

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

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