FEMA OKs $90M in Community Disaster Loans for earthquake-affected towns
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the approval of nearly $90 million in low-interest Community Disaster Loans, known as CDLs, to assist the municipalities affected by the 2020 earthquakes in their long-term recovery.
Twenty-five municipalities in the south, center and west of the island benefitted from this federal assistance, which ended on June 30. All municipalities that applied for the loan and submitted the required documentation were approved, the agency confirmed
“The earthquakes certainly transformed the economic landscape of many municipalities that were simultaneously dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane María. The loans serve as tools that, together with the support of the Government of Puerto Rico, help stabilize operations in the municipalities and reactivate local economies,” said Puerto Rico Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, José G. Baquero.
The CDL Program provides funding for operational expenses to assist local governments that have incurred a significant loss of revenue due to a declared disaster. This operational disruption often negatively affects the ability of towns to provide essential municipal services.
The funds will provide economic relief to municipalities such as San Germán, which worked in coordination with FEMA to get loan approval.
“The municipalities have seen their finances affected by the loss of income, so the loan is very important because it will help us to continue providing services to our people, and to ensure that our employees have the job security they deserve. We appreciate FEMA’s commitment,” said San Germán Mayor Virgilio Olivera-Olivera.
Meanwhile, Aguada Mayor Christian Cortés-Feliciano said the fiscal challenges faced by the island were aggravated by the emergencies caused by the natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This loan will help us subsidize operating expenses, stabilize our finances and outline a path to recovery where we can sustain ourselves with our own funds and fully comply with our obligations. I am convinced that with proper planning, hard work and a shared sense of resolve, we will move forward,” said the mayor.
Manuel A. Laboy, Executive Director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), said hurricane season has already begun, and all municipalities must have the human capital required to deal with any emergency that may arise.
“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the mayors, as well as with state and federal agencies to be facilitators between them and the various types of assistance provided by FEMA,” Laboy said.