Disaster officials, UPR president meet on system reconstruction work
By The Star Staff
University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President Dr. Luis A. Ferrao conducted an onsite visit at the UPR’s Río Piedras campus late last week with federal and local officials with a focus on the reconstruction process underway at the Old Registrar’s building, a structure that was damaged by Hurricane Maria and which is expected to be occupied by the Faculty of Communication and Information.
Ferrao toured the site with Andrés García Martinó, the alternate federal coordinator of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico; María Cruz, the associate director of project development for agencies and private nonprofits at the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3); and the director of the Office of Planning and Infrastructure at UPR, Julio Collazo.
“Since we assumed the presidency, we have been dedicated to working [closely with] the processes for the approval of priority projects and allocation of funds by the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] to direct the reconstruction of the structures that were devastated by Hurricane Maria,” Ferrao said. “At the moment, 206 permanent repair projects have been identified whose investment could amount to $831 million. The Office of Planning and Infrastructure has worked with COR3 and FEMA to expedite the disbursement of the necessary funds.”
The UPR president stressed that among the priority projects of his administration are the dormitories on the Río Piedras campus, permanent repairs on the Bayamón campus and the Guillermo Arbona Irizarry building on the Medical Sciences campus, among others.
COR3 Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said “this permanent work that is under construction is an example of all the projects led by the UPR that are transforming the infrastructure of its campuses into a resilient one in the face of a new natural disaster.”
“The UPR has the availability of the ‘Working Capital Advance’ pilot program that will advance up to 50% of the total required by FEMA to projects that have not begun their development due to lack of capital, and this initiative will be key to the progress of the reconstruction of UPR’s 11 campuses,” he added. “At COR3 we will continue the collaboration with the administration of the first educational center in Puerto Rico to continue directing its major projects.”
José G. Baquero, the federal coordinator of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico, noted “the importance of carrying out the reconstruction projects of the UPR system for the benefit of the entire university community.”