The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that it is investing $122 million for 35 flood risk reduction projects in Puerto Rico.
FEMA is providing the funds through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
For residents and retailers in the Piel Canela Boulevard area in the town of Coamo, measures to address flood risks include a larger capacity stormwater drainage system. The first phase of the project represents more than $340,000 for engineering services and topographic and geotechnical studies to strengthen this area.
According to Coamo Mayor Juan Carlos García Padilla, this area is the most vital in the city in terms of visitors and is the industrial, commercial and sports hub of the municipality, with a large concentration of factories, restaurants, recreational facilities and medical offices, among others.
“This project serves to correct the management of stormwater runoff that comes down from different parts of the town and falls in this lower sector, which is Piel Canela Boulevard,” said Mayor García Padilla. “These funds give us the opportunity to solve the problem and avoid flooding in the future that will affect the economy, sports and the lives of those who pass through the area.”
Likewise, nearly $279,000 was allocated to install piping in the Santa María community in the town of San Germán, of which $28,000 was approved for the initial phase. This project seeks to prevent erosion and reduce the risk of property loss in the event of rain from natural disasters by installing 869 feet of corrugated metal pipe inside an existing ditch.
"The impact of FEMA funds on channel repair in this community is extremely positive,” said San Germán Mayor Virgilio Olivera Olivera. “For years they have suffered from channel erosion and have had safety, life and property put at risk. Through the project, this problem will be solved, and the community will finally be able to live in peace and feel safe in their homes. In addition, the residents of the area will feel much calmer every time hurricane season begins in Puerto Rico."
The Executive Director of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, said that considering the importance of the development of these projects and the need for funds from the applicants, COR3 extended the Working Capital Advance (WCA) pilot program for the works under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
“I call on those government, municipal and non-profit entities that do not have the money to initiate these mitigation projects to apply for the advance available through the WCA and get these developments that are vital to building greater resilience to future disasters on track,” he said.
To date, FEMA has allocated over $29 billion in Public Assistance funds and nearly $3 billion through the Hazard Mitigation Program to increase the island's resilience with mitigation measures.