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  • The San Juan Daily Star

FEMA reaches 700 obligated earthquake recovery projects

José G. Baquero, FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico

By The Star Staff

The allocation of federal funds to Puerto Rico for its recovery from the 2020 earthquakes steadily continues.

This week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reached 700 obligated projects aimed at helping communities recover from damage to the spaces and infrastructure that are part of everyday life, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

“Our goal is to allocate funds for all projects that seek to address the damage caused by the earthquakes and where the reconstruction results in comprehensive social, economic and community development for all residents,” said José G. Baquero, FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico. “We’re aware that the residents of the southern region have had to cope with both Hurricane Maria and the earthquakes, so we remain committed to ensuring that both recoveries continue in unison.”

Aside from repairs to roads, bridges and public infrastructure, the funds also seek to benefit community institutions. The Center for the Elderly of Las Marías, which offers services to more than 100 participants between the ages of 65 and 85, will repair its premises with a contribution of $269,000 from FEMA. Most of the work for the center consists of repairs to cracks in walls, columns, the roof and windows.

According to its administrator, Yaleidy Ruiz Bourdoin, the center provides social service sessions and nursing services, as well as aqua aerobics, outdoor activities, crafts and visits to tourist sites in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the Costa Sur Thermoelectric Power Plant facilities will also benefit from funds that will provide more robust structures for power generation. FEMA has allocated over $476,000 to repair cracks in various parts of the plant’s structures. The project includes 13 facilities distributed among administrative buildings, warehouses and the piping area for Units 5 and 6.

The funding award to Costa Sur, which provides a third of the island’s energy, is part of the $8.7 million recently announced for the reconstruction of the thermoelectric plant, whose work is nearing completion.

Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, executive director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), pointed out that “as opposed to the rest of the island, the southwestern region and part of the center of Puerto Rico are going through multiple reconstruction processes.”

“As part of our commitment, we work as a team with each sub-recipient to guide them in the right direction in the development of permanent works due to the earthquakes, without leaving behind the reconstruction projects due to the damage caused by Hurricane Maria,” he said. “To date, FEMA has obligated over $672 million for the emergency stages and the execution of permanent works due to the earthquakes. At COR3, we continue to evaluate the current processes and identify areas of opportunity so that, together with FEMA, we can be facilitators in the reconstruction progress.”

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