FEMA has awarded over $1.1 billion to date in Fiona disaster aid
By THE STAR STAFF
Since last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been supporting the Puerto Rico government in its recovery efforts due to Hurricane Fiona, working to advance federal funds. To date, over $1.1 billion has been awarded in disaster assistance for survivors, communities and affected public infrastructure, the agency said Monday.
Disaster assistance to support Puerto Rico includes FEMA’s Individual Assistance program with over $646 million approved in individual and household grants to some 740,000 applicants in Puerto Rico. Additionally, over $328 million has been obligated through the Public Assistance program, including over $185 million allocated for emergency protective measures and over $143 million for permanent work.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia stated that “the assistance that the federal government has provided us, through FEMA, to continue helping our citizens is more evidence of the close collaboration and agility that we have achieved on behalf of our people, our communities, our municipalities and our public infrastructure.”
Since last May, the collaboration between FEMA, the island government and the municipalities has been obligating on average more than 114 projects per month, resulting in more than 840 obligations to date. The expectation is to have 50% of all projects obligated by the end of this month.
“Continued collaboration among the municipalities, the PR Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) and FEMA has been essential for an effective recovery process,” said DuWayne Tewes, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer for Hurricane Fiona. “Close to 30% of the applicants for Fiona funds have already completed the final stage of their process with FEMA. Therefore, we continue to encourage our partners to reach out to the agency for technical assistance, so that we can help them move all their eligible projects forward.”
To date, Jayuya and Las Piedras stand out as the municipalities with the most disaster assistance grants obligated, with 49 and 36 projects, respectively. Jayuya was obligated nearly $23 million in federal funds, while Las Piedras was awarded $15 million, for repairs to roads and bridges.
Federal assistance is also making a difference for many nonprofit organizations. Nearly $10 million was allocated to repair hurricane damage at 100 nonprofits, of which five have completed construction of their permanent projects. Among these are Servicios de Salud Episcopales Inc., which received over $119,000 for permanent work; Fundación Damas Inc., a health-related group in Ponce, which was assigned over $105,000 in federal funds; and Juana Díaz Housing for Elderly Inc., in Juana Díaz, with nearly $87,000 for repairs and over $44,900 for mitigation measures.
Meanwhile, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has processed 100% of claims and disbursed more than $4.2 million to policyholders. The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved over $109 million in low-interest loans to homeowners or renters, nonprofit organizations and businesses that applied for physical damage assistance, as well as businesses that suffered economic losses due to Hurricane Fiona.