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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA completes more than 850 site inspections from Fiona recovery

By The Star Staff

Within the Public Assistance (PA) program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has completed more than 851 site inspections throughout Puerto Rico, advancing the island’s recovery from Hurricane Fiona.

That number represents nearly 1,625 facilities and infrastructure items that applicants reported were damaged by the disaster, FEMA said Wednesday.

“Recovery from Hurricane Fiona is advancing at a steady pace, with hundreds of site inspections and follow-up meetings anticipated in the coming weeks,” said Nancy Casper, the federal coordinating officer for Hurricane Fiona. “To keep this momentum and avoid delays in the public assistance process, it is very important that municipalities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations continue providing information in a timely manner.”

Hundreds of applicants have submitted damage inventory lists to FEMA. More than 12,300 facilities and infrastructure items have been submitted for review. They include 5,783 items from municipalities, 5,926 from government agencies and 624 from private nonprofit organizations, such as houses of worship and community-based organizations. Damage inventory lists will be reviewed to ensure eligibility.

Currently, FEMA has nearly 60 site inspectors, including 15 new recruits from Puerto Rico, who support the site inspections for hurricane-damaged facilities.

The PA program delivery process is complex, with several phases of review, validation and approval, noted Jorge D. López, PA deputy infrastructure branch director at FEMA.

“The goal is to complete all site inspections by the end of April,” López said.

The program delivery process consists of seven distinct phases, from the preliminary damage assessment conducted after the incident, until the final project reconciliation and closing.

Some phases are concerned with inspecting and documenting damage, others with cost reviews and validation.

During each phase, specialists must analyze data and review documentation to ensure compliance with FEMA procedures, in accordance with federal regulations and program requirements.

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