Designated Federal Aid Mainly for Damaged Infrastructure in Puerto Rico

November 16, 2005

Federal disaster officials have informed that the presidential disaster declaration granted to Puerto Rico is mainly to supplement the response efforts carried out by Commonwealth and municipal governments and to provide aid for disaster-damaged infrastructure. On Oct. 9-15, severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides affected twelve municipalities in the island.

“We want to ensure that vital infrastructure facilities are restored as quickly as possible and help the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico achieve a full and lasting recovery,” said Justo Hernandez, federal coordinating officer. “As such, the federal disaster declaration made by the President is currently addressing the immediate disaster priorities undertaken by the government at both the state and local levels,” he added.

FEMA will provide assistance under the Public Assistance (PA) program. The PA program provides assistance to eligible State agencies, municipal governments and qualified private non-profit organizations for disaster-related approved costs of debris removal, emergency services, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, road repairs, bridges, repair of water control facilities and restoration of buildings, utilities, and recreational facilities.

The following municipalities are eligible to apply for federal disaster aid under the PA program: Aibonito, Juana Diaz, Lares, Maricao, Peñuelas, Ponce, Salinas, Santa Isabel, Utuado, Villalba, Yabucoa and Yauco. Additional designations may be declared at a later date if requested by the Commonwealth as determined by the results of further damage assessments.

Furthermore, disaster assistance has been approved under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). This program helps state and municipal governments to undertake actions towards preventing or reducing long- term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

Procedures for requesting the federal assistance will be explained at an applicant briefing for local officials at a location to be announced shortly by Commonwealth disaster officials.

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