COR3 Chief Acknowledges Challenges Ahead for Island’s Reconstruction
The executive director of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), Manuel Laboy, recognized today that Puerto Rico faces numerous challenges as it enters the execution phase of federal assistance and funding provided for Hurricane María, which devastated critical components of the island’s infrastructure on September of 2017.
However, the official also presented an optimistic view of state and federal officials’ steps to accelerate the construction of 6,616 permanent projects, the bulk of the investment distributed between the public corporations in charge of the island’s electric and water utilities, and the Department of Education.
The total request for public assistance to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reaches $29.9 billion for 10,797 projects, and FEMA has already obligated or separated $24.3 billion of this amount. However, it is worth noting that only 1.14 percent of the funds for permanent work have been disbursed, around $217 million, although this amount could increase significantly with the projects that will start next year.
“We know of agencies and municipalities that have projects in that early stage (of approval), and we are dedicating resources on a daily basis to move these projects to approval, and that I would say is the first obstacle that we are facing. Most of the funds have been already obligated, but we need to approve still $4 billion,” Laboy said in a round table today with several journalists to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Hurricane María.