SAN JUAN — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $53 million from the Community Disaster Loans (CDL) program for 12 towns in Puerto Rico under, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Friday.
Towns can receive up to $5 million in low-interest loans to stabilize their operations and services and advance recovery efforts from the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria last September. Repayment in 93 percent of the cases where those loans were granted have been forgiven.
The first towns that will benefit from the CDL program are Bayamón, Caguas, Humacao, Juncos, Ponce, Río Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San Lorenzo, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, and Yabucoa. The remaining 65 municipalities are currently in different phases of their request and approval of this federal program.
“Municipalities were the first line of response for residents after the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria. The municipal coffers suffered an impact due to unforeseen expenses and the closure of businesses devastated by the passage of this storm,” said Rosselló, who met with FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Thursday.
The funds may be used to assist communities within these municipalities to provide essential services amid recovery efforts in the aftermath of last year’s hurricane season.
On Oct. 26, 2017, President Donald Trump approved a supplementary allocation of $4.6 billion for the CDL program. These loans assist local governments in providing essential services after a natural disaster.
The Associated Press reports that Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) Brock Long said some $50 billion would be needed to help rebuild Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and warned that the island was is not ready for another disaster.
“We’re running out of time,” he said, referring to the looming hurricane season, but that a planning and training exercise with the government will be held June 14 that includes the delivery of life-saving supplies.