FEMA advances $70 million for Puerto Rico water utility repairs
SAN JUAN – The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Caribbean region director, Alejandro de la Campa, announced Wednesday that the agency has approved a $70 million advance for Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa) repairs after the passage of Hurricane María.
To date, the public utility has restored water service to 64.22% of its customers, more than 140,000 of which regained service after the La Plata River reservoir was powered Monday. The number represents the largest customer increase in a one-day period.
The multimillion-dollar sum is in addition to $54.6 million advanced Tuesday to the Electric Power Authority (Prepa) for reconstruction works of the system. De la Campa also noted that $115 million has been awarded in contracts and 50,000 utility posts and 6,500 miles of power lines have been purchased.
Thousands lost power service Tuesday after Prepa engineers confirmed a collapse in a Central San Juan electricity plant. Now, the percentage of customers with electricity is at 10.6%, a 5% drop. This is the second time the plant goes down.
In Wednesday’s press conference at the government’s emergency command center, De la Campa said FEMA has disbursed $210 million to municipalities, government agencies and families affected by the Category 4 storm that struck the island three weeks ago.
According to the FEMA official, this number will “keep rising daily based on the [aid] requests we are receiving and the coordination with the government, municipalities and agencies.” Petitions for aid already exceed 250,000.
As for water and food supplies, De la Campa announced that 4921,000 liters of water and 565,000 meals will be distributed Wednesday islandwide, while two barges were arriving with 4.6 million liters of water in addition to the 8 already million received.
According to the most recent update, the number of gas stations open remains at 860 since Oct. 6. Meanwhile, the number of people in the island’s 108 shelters is down to 5,742–roughly 300 fewer than Tuesday–as well as 123 sheltered pets.
Moreover, 178 bank branches are open, three more compared with Tuesday’s data. The total of cooperatives stands at 140 and 628 ATMs are working. Also, 393 of the island’s 456 supermarkets are open and 782 pharmacies are processing online prescritions.
Regarding telecommunication services, Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario said 53.6 percent are operational. The total includes fixed and wireless services. This, in addition to 18.9 percent of cell antenas and 33.6 percent of cell towers.