UPR receives $140M in federal disaster recovery funding
The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the island’s Infrastructure Financing Authority (AFI, in Spanish) have signed a collaboration agreement to work on 36 reconstruction projects that will address the damage caused by Hurricane María in 107 buildings across the university system’s 11 campuses. The agreement includes an investment of $139.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program funds.
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane in September 2017 and federal disaster funding has been slow to materialize. The agreement between the UPR and AFI represents a significant step in the reconstruction and recovery of the university system, which was significantly impacted, leaving many buildings suffering from severe structural damage, water damage and electrical problems.
In a statement, the academic institution’s president, Dr. Luis A. Ferrao, said the signing marks the launch and acceleration of the reconstruction process. AFI Executive Director Eduardo Rivera added that providing technical advice and improving the facilities for the university community is part of the government administration’s public policy.
The Disaster Recovery Office of the UPR and AFI is responsible for the first phase of the reconstruction work covered by the agreement, which must be completed within three years of its signing. Some of the priority projects include the Natural Sciences buildings at the UPR in Humacao, the Ángel Espada gymnasium at the Mayagüez campus (known as RUM), and the Adelina Coppin Alvarado Library at UPR Ponce.
Ferrao also highlighted other important projects that the UPR is developing. These include the ResiCampus and Torre Norte student residences at the Río Piedras campus, as well as the new Faculty of Communications and Information. The construction of the new facilities of the Primate Center in Cayo Santiago in Humacao and the remodeling of the chemistry and biology buildings at RUM are also in progress.