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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor says reconstruction will take eight years

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that it will take eight years to complete the reconstruction of Puerto Rico.

“Yes, what I’m saying is that when you look at the time it takes for an area devastated by a natural disaster in the United States to rehabilitate, to rebuild completely, the approximate time is 15 years,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “And I’m saying we’ve basically been [at it for] around six years and a few months, we’re going to say four or five months -- almost six and a half years since Maria. And I am seeing that at the rate of the permanent work projects that essentially began at the beginning of 2021, all this work, or the vast majority of the work, must be completed in eight years.”

“That’s my estimate, so if you add it all up, it would [come out to] 14 and a half years and that’s what happens in the United States elsewhere, because that’s how the U.S. government’s programs work, the programs to respond to emergencies and natural disasters,” he added.

Pierluisi said further that “if we add the first funds that the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] has disbursed so far from everything it had planned to disburse, including those emergency and individual assistance funds, we are at about 45 percent of all the funds that FEMA has available to deal with Hurricane Maria.”

The governor insisted that the report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which states that only 8% of the federal funds allocated have been used, is incorrect.

“I explained that because there are times when reports can be misrepresented, such as the GAO’s own report, which is incomplete, because it is only talking … about permanent work and does not say [anything about] everything else that was done before it began, that permanent work,” he said.

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