Washington – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, for its acronym in English) extended, without announcing a new fixed term, the examination of the cost estimates of the reconstruction projects it will finance in Puerto Rico through section 428 of the Stafford Act, after the hurricane Maria.
In a statement, FEMA reported this weekend that it approved the request of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience of Puerto Rico (COR3) “to extend the delivery of fixed cost estimates under the alternative procedures of Section 428 to damage related to Hurricane Maria ”.
The original date expired on Friday.
The government of Puerto Rico recently requested to continue for one year the examination of the estimates of the fixed costs of the permanent work necessary to rebuild facilities of the central government, public corporations and municipalities.
FEMA implied that the prolongation of the talks, at the moment, does not set a new date to achieve those agreements.
“Due to the magnitude of the impact of Hurricane María, FEMA recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done by the applicants, COR3 and FEMA (around) the fixed cost estimates for infrastructure projects in Puerto Rico. FEMA and COR3 will work together to establish achievable objectives and specific deadlines for completing fixed cost estimates, ”said the FEMA statement.
A few weeks ago, both FEMA and the director of COR3, Ottmar Chávez, told El Nuevo Día that the intention was to agree new dates by “sectors”, joining the projects by areas, for example those related to electricity, education or roads.
“The conversations about specific agreements with FEMA will continue to continue the recovery and reconstruction of Puerto Rico and we will be communicating it,” said Chávez.
Together with the funds from the community development program to deal with disasters (CDBG-DR), FEMA assignments through section 428 will define the island's reconstruction process, following the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria two years ago.
The Puerto Rican government has estimated at least $ 100,000 million of the damage caused by the cyclone, the consequences of which also caused about 2,995 deaths, according to a study by the George Washington University School of Health (GWU).
So far, the federal government has allocated about $ 49,000 million in funds for the recovery and reconstruction of the Island, although less than half has been disbursed.
For example, of the $ 20,250 million pledged to Puerto Rico through the CDBG-DR program, the federal Department of Housing (HUD) has only authorized the disbursement of $ 1,507 million and is now in the process of appointing a financial monitor to control the delivery of those funds.
The government hopes that through section 428 at least $ 37 billion will be financed in reconstruction projects, including the transformation of the electrical system.
At the end of September, the director of COR3 indicated that only agreements had been reached on the costs of 139 of the 9,345 permanent work projects that have been on the table.
Under section 428, the government of Puerto Rico agreed to use the alternative method to decide on permanent works projects, which required to reach, no later than October 11, a general agreement on its costs, which may not be varied. later.
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