Wanda Vázquez ([email protected])

Wanda Vázquez Garced announced yesterday that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) received 525 proposals submitted by 188 public and private entities aimed at minimizing the damage to life and property after Hurricane María hit the island in 2017.

"These organizations and municipalities had been waiting more than two years for these projects to be evaluated, so once we reached this position... our vision is to use these funds with the responsibility that our people need," the governor said.

Once the entities - including municipalities and the University of Puerto Rico - receive the confirmation that proposals have been selected, applicants are requested to submit an application package that must include a cost-benefit analysis, the scope of the project, the budget, and the work schedule.

The Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience (COR-3) has to receive these plans between August and September to submit them to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by October 31 so this agency determines whether the proposal is eligible or not.

The proposals focus on health, education, and infrastructure, including flood control projects and the acquisition of electric generators for hospitals and care centers, among others. "We are convinced that, with the contribution of the federal government and the island´s talent, we have the necessary resources to lift Puerto Rico," said the governor.

Although these projects are 100 percent federally funded, Vázquez Garced explained that they separated a $750 million package in the island´s budget to help those mayors and entities that don't have the initial funds to start with the works. The Board, however, has to approve the distribution of these funds.

"What we want is that what we have seen in the past years, with the disasters that hit the island, does not happen again or that we can minimize any impact," said Ottmar Chávez, executive director of COR-3.

The 188 proposals approved include projects in the area of health (65); housing (18); training projects (6); natural resources and cultural proposals (3); education (27); economy (4); public buildings (9) and municipalities (56). However, letters of intent totaled 3,200.

The program, also known as Section 404 Funds, has $3.999 billion. Of that package, $2.999 billion through the HMGP initiative and $1 billion through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program