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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA issues progress report on Puerto Rico’s recovery

Deanne Criswell, the FEMA administrator, speaks to reporters during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Aug. 29, 2023. (Leigh Vogel/The New York Times)

By The Star Staff

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell announced Wednesday that the agency published its first ever Puerto Rico Interim Progress Report to highlight progress on the island after hurricanes Maria and Fiona, and the earthquakes in 2020.

FEMA said its efforts to help rebuild are paving the way for an unprecedented recovery and, in coordination with the Government of Puerto Rico, the pace of the recovery has gained momentum in the past several years as new infrastructure, permanent repairs and reconstruction can be seen across the island.

“Collectively, we are working on over 11,000 recovery projects from these disasters that will dramatically impact the everyday lives of residents,” Criswell said. “With each site that is rebuilt, we are investing in Puerto Rico’s economy and helping to build the Island’s resilience to severe weather events. This critical work will also help boost the island’s recovery and response capabilities for future generations -- ensuring communities are safer and more secure in this increasingly challenging disaster landscape.”

FEMA said it is maximizing the opportunity to ensure that the island is built back in a way that is stronger and can lessen the impacts of other natural disasters in the future.

By partnering with communities and local leaders to understand their vulnerabilities, FEMA said it is leading the way to find equitable solutions that help advance climate adaptation and ensure recovery is community-driven.

Through funding to implement current building codes across the island and other rebuilding projects to mitigate historic flooding in the Caño Martín Peña community in San Juan, for example, FEMA is ensuring recovery efforts result in resilient outcomes, the agency said. Residents in that community will benefit from improvements to the sanitary sewer system and stormwater infrastructure in the area, among other significant permanent work, FEMA pointed out.

Partnerships with the University of Puerto Rico to assess hurricane damage along the island’s coast and the U.S. Department of Energy to help the island reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, among others. are helping inform the way forward through the lens of climate change and climate adaptability, the agency noted.

“Puerto Rico continues to recover due to our workforce’s commitment to the task of rebuilding a resilient island,” said Regional Administrator David Warrington, FEMA Region 2. “While preserving its historic and environmental heritage, they take great pride in knowing that their efforts contribute to building a strong, beautiful and resilient island for future generations. With each project that is rebuilt, the island moves closer to becoming an example of resilience in the Caribbean.”

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