• The Star Staff

$14 million in FEMA funds assigned for 83 additional hurricane recovery projects


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Central Office for Puerto Rico Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) announced Wednesday the obligation of over $14 million in additional funds for 83 projects related to the recovery and reconstruction of Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria. These grants were approved during the week of July 17-23.


Among the most recent obligations is over $691,000 for the municipality of San Lorenzo to repair the Piedra Dura Water Park, which opened in May 2016.


Designed for the enjoyment of the 40,000 inhabitants of the eastern central town known as the Samaritan City, the complex employs about 34 people under the Municipal Enterprise Project. The park has several attractions such as swimming pools with water jets, a zip line, a 24-foot stone used for climbing, water jets for small children, and pavilions (gazebos), among other recreational areas.


“The Piedra Dura Water Park in San Lorenzo is a very special place for Samaritan families,” said San Lorenzo’s acting mayor, Lynette Feliciano. “They can safely enjoy a beautiful space with excellent, fun amenities for children and seniors, who are the ones that have suffered the most from anxiety during this pandemic and [period of] social distancing.”


Meanwhile, nearly $291,000 was approved for repairs to the Las Vegas Urbanization’s basketball court in the municipality of Florida. More than 500 Floridian families will benefit from the permanent construction project located on Yori Street.


“This basketball court is the only recreational facility in the development and surrounding areas, so once rebuilt, residents will be able to enjoy it again,” said Florida Mayor José Gerena Polanco. “On behalf of all of us who live and work in the municipality of Florida, Tierra del Río Encantado (Land of the Enchanted River), we thank our staff, FEMA and COR3 for all the work and effort made to obtain these funds.”


Meanwhile, the municipality of Moca has been assigned over $38,000 to repave and repair the bridge on PR-423 Severiano González Road, which provides access to adjacent properties and connects with other roads.


Moreover, Moca Mayor José Avilés Santiago said FEMA funds have helped the municipality in an extraordinary way since they offer the opportunity to address situations that otherwise could not be remedied. He said the funds help prevent the municipality’s economy from being further affected and added that he is very grateful for FEMA’s work and commitment.


Part of the funds will be used as mitigation measures to prevent possible future damage. With some $5,000 for mitigation measures, Moca will build a concrete slab at the bridge access points to provide additional resistance for the road in cases where flooding overflows the bridge and passes over the road, causing skidding.


The most recent approved grants are as follows:


* Over $7.6 million for repairs to parks and recreational facilities.

* Over $2.3 million for repairs to roads and bridges.

* Over $2 million for repairs to public buildings and equipment.

* Over $1.4 million to municipalities and government agencies for administrative costs.

* Over $1.1 million for emergency protective measures.

* Over $61,300 for water control facilities.

* Over $49,600 for utility repairs.


FEMA works with COR3 through the federal agency’s Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and agencies of the Puerto Rico government for expenses related to hurricanes Irma and Maria. To date, over $7 billion has been awarded to Puerto Rico as part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program.