Sunday, August 25, 2019

Foundation for Puerto Rico starts emergency resilience program

By on January 15, 2019

SAN JUAN – Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR), a nonprofit that fosters social and economic development, has signed an agreement with the island’s Housing Department to lead preparations for emergency situations, such as natural disasters, as part of the nonprofit’s “Whole Community Resilience Planning Program.”

The foundation’s efforts center around inserting the island into the global economy via its programs, as well as to promote Puerto Rico not only as a tourism destination, but also its investment potential, while focusing on the visitor economy by making an impact on the tourism sector.

The signed agreement kicks off the Whole Community Resilience Program, which is part of the foundation’s numerous initiatives to address the island’s recovery after the historic 2017 hurricane season.

As part of the program’s first phase, the foundation explained it is building a working group to assist communities in developing plans to “prevent, prepare and handle emergency situations, including natural disasters.”

FPR is bringing together government, community, nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations “that have the knowledge and experience in the different focus areas of the program, specifically: housing, health and environment, education, infrastructure and economic development,” the foundation said in a press release, adding that among those helping draft long-term resilience plans as part of the working group are the Puerto Rico Community Foundation and the Puerto Rican Planning Society. 

“These working group partnerships are crucial to achieving a more comprehensive and inclusive process, and will result in higher quality and sustainable plans,” said Annie Mayol, president and COO of FPR.

The president and COO of Foundation for Puerto Rico, Annie Mayol, left, holds a blueprint for a resilience-plan target area. (Courtesy photo)

Puerto Rico’s Housing Department assigned $37.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The allocation is a result of a joint “Action Plan” by both agencies to fund activities and programs aimed at the recovery of communities affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The program’s first phase consists of collecting and publishing the data needed to “determine and inform communities” about their current situation and vulnerabilities, FPR explained. That process will be followed by the publication of the “Notification of Availability of Funds” (NOFA), a document that will “describe the participation parameters for communities, and the selection criteria to receive funds for the development of their plans.”

Maria Jaunarena, the executive vice president of FPR, described the foundation’s objectives succinctly: “We have served and will continue to serve as a liaison, especially after Hurricane Maria, to support communities around the island so they can have access to updated and reliable data, in addition to information to create their own plans with the financing and necessary tools that will allow them to prepare, mitigate risks, quickly manage, and recover from emergencies, including natural disasters.”

Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Gil Enseñat was quoted as saying that the initiative “will allow eligible communities to develop planning and management policies to streamline housing and infrastructure repair, as well as revitalize the economy,” adding that the foundationwill lead the process to help communities understand their real needs across sectors based upon the best available data. This way, we can continue to take positive steps forward, for the recovery and reconstruction of Puerto Rico.”

For more information about the Whole Community Resilience Program, visit http://www.foundationpr.org/WCRP.

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