Hurricane Irma’s economic impact on Puerto Rico surpasses $600 million
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló estimated Tuesday that the damages caused by the passage of Hurricane Irma over the North coast of Puerto Rico are more than $600 million, especially in infrastructure. This, in addition to the $30.6 million in damages to the agricultural sector caused by the weather phenomenon.
These are preliminary numbers the government released based on reports from the 78 municipalities, which don’t include road damage funding to be requested of the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). Now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must corroborate the data.
Moreover, the governor announced that the U.S. Government approved disaster declarations for 10 municipalities in addition to a previous declaration for the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra.
The following municipalities can request FEMA assistance for infrastructure damage: Adjuntas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Guaynabo, Juncos, Loíza, Luquillo, Orocovis, Patillas and Utuado.
Accompanied by FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long, who is visiting Puerto Rico, the governor explained that other municipalities could be declared disaster zones as well. The government would have to wait for FEMA to conclude its assessment in the coming days.
As with Vieques and Culebra, the disaster declaration for Canóvanas and Loíza includes individual aid for home repair. In the remaining municipalities, aid is limited to government and municipal infrastructure damage.
While the rest of the assessments are being conducted, FEMA’s administrator for the Caribbean region, Alejandro de la Campa, noted that at the moment, “all 78 municipalities are eligible to receive FEMA reimbursement for the collection of debris” and other pre-hurricane preparation aid.
This is possible because the federal government declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico before the storm to provide such aid.
The money invested by the Government of Puerto Rico that cannot be reimbursed by FEMA would be covered in part by an emergency fund, Rosselló said. This fund had just over $30 million: $20 million was allocated in this budget and other funds from various line items.
“I want to thank William ‘Brock’ Long, John Robin [FEMA Acting Administrator for Region 2], Alejandro de la Campa and the entire FEMA team for their support before, during and after Hurricane Irma on the island. Their help has been vital and has allowed the recovery process of Puerto Rico to be more agile, which will allow our people to return to normalcy as soon as possible,” the governor said.
FEMA’s Long said it was his first visit to Puerto Rico but that it would not be his last. He added that the message President Donald Trump gave him was to protect the people, and that they are doing so.