Puerto Rico to experience delay in disbursement of FEMA funds
By The Star Staff
Puerto Rico will experience a delay in the disbursement of over $200 million for hurricane recovery works as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) measures to ration its disaster relief fund, the Washington Post reported this week, citing budget records.
Earlier this month, FEMA temporarily suspended $1.5 billion in obligations for certain projects to avoid depleting its disaster relief fund, a decision that affected 1,610 projects under the public assistance program.
According to the newspaper, much of the $200 million in funds are to reimburse the commonwealth for repairing infrastructure damaged by hurricanes Fiona and Maria, which hit the island in September last year and September 2017, respectively.
The island’s economic situation may worsen if the delay is prolonged, as part of the funds are for rebuilding the electrical infrastructure, Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy Rivera said in the report.
According to the report, FEMA expects to resume disbursing the proceeds as usual once it gets an additional appropriation from the U.S. Congress to replenish the disaster relief fund, which has $2.4 billion left.
With the uncertainty of a possible government shutdown after Oct. 1, FEMA has decided to delay the disbursement of $2.8 billion for long-term recovery projects, such as those in Puerto Rico, in order to have the capacity to respond to new emergencies that may occur, the paper reported, citing an unidentified senior FEMA official.
Some states, such as Louisiana and Florida, have also been affected by FEMA’s rationing decision, and have seen the disbursement of some $555 million and $101 million paused, respectively, the paper indicated.