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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA assigns close to $80 million for mental health facilities

Carlos Rodríguez Mateo, head of the Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration

By The Star Staff

The stressful situations experienced by Puerto Rico residents in recent years have disrupted their emotional health, regardless of their age or social status, the Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish initials), Carlos Rodríguez Mateo, said when describing the effects of disasters and a global pandemic on the island.

Rodríguez Mateo also recognizes that strengthened mental health is important for the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria, the earthquakes of early 2020 and other collective crises, as it will enable Puerto Rico residents to function effectively in all aspects of their lives.

In keeping with a vision that encompasses all aspects of a robust and resilient recoavery, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allocated nearly $76 million to ASSMCA for several of its facilities around the island that sustained damages from Hurricane Maria, and nearly $4 million to address its recovery from the earthquakes that struck the southern part of the island in 2020.

“This is one of the agencies whose demand for services increased considerably after Hurricane Maria, and it has been proven that they require optimal facilities to be able to serve their clients with attention and care,” Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José G. Baquero said. “The agency’s funds will repair facilities in various regions; the goal is for ASSMCA’s staff to continue to be an instrument of support for all citizens.”

Part of the funding under disaster recovery from Hurricane Maria encompasses nearly $31 million for about 20 facilities, with which lead and asbestos problems have already been resolved. The structures include several recovery centers in Moca and Ponce; drug courts in Arecibo, Ponce and San Juan; the Mental Health Center in Mayagüez; and prevention centers in Bayamón and Ponce.

Among the work pending is replacement of roofs, an elevator and cameras, as well as fire and security alarm systems. About $15 million in mitigation funds under the allocation are earmarked for voltage surge protectors, commercial steel exterior doors, roof drains and roof sealing treatments, among other measures to mitigate damage from heavy rains and winds.

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