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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA approves $24 million for hurricane safe rooms

José Baquero, FEMA disaster recovery coordinator in Puerto Rico

By The Star Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved $24.4 million to build 10 safe rooms to protect residents in eight Puerto Rico municipalities against the threat of hurricanes.

The announcement was made by FEMA Disaster Recovery Coordinator José Baquero on Wednesday.

“Although we cannot prevent cyclonic activity, we can take measures that protect citizens, especially the most vulnerable populations,” Baquero said in a written statement. “The safe rooms are a definitive step in that direction.”

A safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet FEMA criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme wind events, including tornadoes and hurricanes.

Near-absolute protection means that, based on current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built in accordance with FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.

Funding for the safe rooms comes from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The spaces, which can be anything from a room to an additional structure, resist winds of up to 160 to 235 miles per hour and provide almost absolute security in the event of a hurricane thanks to their reinforced construction.

All rooms meet FEMA security parameters and will be located in areas accessible to citizens. The project covers the municipalities of Ceiba, Guayama, Las Marías, Orocovis, Peñuelas, Ponce, San Germán and San Juan.

Community safe rooms are generally equipped with food, water, and emergency supplies for the people who will occupy it, although this varies according to the size of the room or building and its intended use.

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