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FEMA grants $173K for Condado Lagoon flood mitigation project

The executive director of the Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), Manuel Laboy, and San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero-Lugo recently announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved funding for the first phase of a flood mitigation project around the Condado Lagoon through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

“As part of the HMGP program, FEMA approved a first phase of $173,245.52 for the development of engineering and architecture-related work,” Laboy said. “The area impacted by this project, with a total investment of $1.69 million, has recently been affected by heavy rains resulting from climate change. The project proposed by the municipality of San Juan will reduce the possibility of flooding and minimize its impact. At the same time, it will facilitate the drainage of rainwater. For Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s administration, it is important that Puerto Rico’s reconstruction be resilient and the development of such projects will allow us to achieve that resilience goal.”

Once the engineering and architecture work is completed, FEMA will evaluate the results and issue the obligation for the second phase, which includes the acquisition of equipment, constructing floodwalls and drainage channels along streets north of the Condado Lagoon, retention gates, and an underground water storage with a pump system to redirect surface water to the lagoon.

“This is extraordinary news at a time when the San Juan municipal administration continues to identify proposals and funds to address and mitigate areas traditionally affected by flooding in areas near the Condado Lagoon,” Romero-Lugo said. “The approval of these funds will significantly contribute to the urban planning we are working on in the area to the benefit of residents and all sectors that are part of the capital city and contribute to the economic and social development of the area and Puerto Rico,” Romero-Lugo said.

Laboy expressed support for FEMA’s recommendations to adopt green technologies and structures to minimize the environmental impact of new construction to reduce flood damage. 

José Baquero, FEMA,s federal disaster recovery coordinator, said that “vegetated ditches, one of the green measures proposed for this project, delay runoff, filter it, help soil absorption, allow for smaller discharges and result in cleaner runoff. FEMA’s mitigation vision will continue to promote green measures and processes that also help reduce the effects of climate change.”

In recent months, other multimillion-dollar projects have been announced to manage flooding in areas such as Canóvanas, the urban center of Carolina, and communities near the Yagüez River in Mayagüez.

Through the Working Capital Advance (WCA) pilot program, which provides up to 25 percent of FEMA’s initial obligation for projects, nearly $6.4 million has been allocated for flood mitigation efforts related to Hurricane Maria and $101,922 for earthquake damage. Another 25 percent advance through the WCA is accessible for the projects’ second phases.

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