Puerto Rico gov cancels school, public employee work for Thursday
Fiscal board authorizes $123 million from Emergency Fund
SAN JUAN — Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Wednesday that she signed an executive order to establish a 24-hour dry law, and suspended public school and work for non-essential public employees Thursday.
“I’m making a special call, that amid the situation everyone should be in their homes. Those who believe their home is not safe, that they go to their relatives or friends,” said the governor at a press conference, which she then left to get back to her meeting schedule to address the emergency.
Public Safety Secretary Elmer Román reported a situation with a sailboat near Culebra, which was addressed by the Coast Guard and the Natural Resources Department.
For his part, the governor’sm representative to the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, Elí Díaz Atienza, said the panel entity created under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (Promesa) authorized the use of $123 million from the Emergency Fund.
In a statement later, the board said: “In light of Hurricane Dorian and the related Federal declaration of a state of emergency for Puerto Rico, the Financial Oversight and Management Board has authorized utilization of Emergency Reserve funds from fiscal years 2019 and 2020 as needed by the Government of Puerto Rico without prior Oversight Board approval of reapportionments through September 28, 2019. The $260 million in aggregate funds can only be used for Hurricane Dorian emergency-related expenses.
“In addition, the Oversight Board authorizes Government access to previous year Budgetary Reserve balances for Hurricane Dorian emergency-related expenses provided a certification of said balances is presented to the Oversight Board in advance. Reapportionments of these certified funds would be authorized without prior Oversight Board approval until September 28, 2019.
“The Board is also granting the Government an extension to expend funds that were properly encumbered on or before June 30th, from the General and Special Revenue Budgets, from the mandated deadline of August 31st to September 13th. “
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, José Ortiz Velázquez, claimed that he did not currently need to request additional help from the American Public Power Association (APPA).
“It seems that we will be able to cover any problem with the electrical service with our brigades. We have 422 brigades, or almost 1,300 workers. There is a large majority that we are concentrating between the metropolitan area and Humacao. We have people available to move on barges to the islands of Vieques and Culebra when necessary,” Ortiz Velázquez said.
So far, 660 utility customers have lost power service, while about 2,000 have no water service. There are 94 people in 56 shelters.
As for the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, 51 departures and 49 arrivals were canceled.