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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Mayor: Peñuelas returning to its feet despite slowness of LUMA, ACT

Peñuelas Mayor Gregory Gonsález Souchet

By John McPhaul

While lauding the work done by municipal staff, Peñuelas Mayor Gregory Gonsález Souchet acknowledged Tuesday the slowness with which several island agencies, including LUMA Energy and the Highways and Transportation Authority (ACT by its Spanish initials), have responded to various situations in the southern coastal town.

“I call on the governor to intervene and instruct the agencies to get to work in Peñuelas,” Gonsález Souchet said in a written statement. “We still have hundreds of families without power service and we are waiting to resume the work of removing the rockslide that occurred before the passage of Fiona on the PR-386 highway, which is closed for several kilometers.”

A month after Hurricane Fiona passed through the island, Gonsález Souchet announced that the cleaning and maintenance of the town is at 90%. He said that figure includes the collection and removal of vegetation, the removal of other debris and the cleanup from landslides, work that is being carried out by municipal public works brigades. Despite this effort, the municipality still has communities without electrical service and is still waiting for government agencies to do power restoration work.

“Ninety percent of the tasks that we can do as an administration are completed throughout the town,” the mayor said. “After the passage of Hurricane Fiona through the area, the municipal brigades took to the streets to meet the needs of Peñuelanos, which included maintenance of highways, and distribution of water and food, among other things.”

“There are situations that due to their complexity and weather conditions make it difficult for us to be faster and more agile,” Gonsález Souchet added.

The tasks carried out by the municipal brigades include the collection and removal of downed trees, and branches and brush debris from roads and from power and telephone lines. It also includes removal of mud and soil from landslides and collaboration with LUMA Energy personnel to make way and provide access to the brigades to carry out repair work on the electric power system.

As an example of the work conducted, the mayor noted that “in the Rucio and Korea communities we have almost all the work completed.”

“In Korea, in addition to the cleanup work, awnings were installed in two residences and we are in communication with both families to identify permanent solutions to this situation. In Korea, the collapse that affected the Maldonado family was dealt with and we continued the work without interruption to fix Highway PR-387 where it enters the community,” Gonsález Souchet said. “Today, Tuesday, we worked on cleaning up the collapse that occurred at a residence, which due to the rains had to be postponed.”

The mayor also detailed the work done in the Quebrada Ceiba community, in which “the creek was cleaned and the cleaning work was completed in its entirety.”

“Little by little we are raising up our town to return to ordinary life after the onslaught that Fiona inflicted on Peñuelas,” he said.

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