Release Number: DR-4339-PR NR 445
More than 918,000 residents in 17 municipalities will benefit from these obligations
GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – FEMA obligated over $1 million to repair sirens that help disseminate key information across long distances during an emergency. These systems produce alerts in case of flash floods, rivers exceeding their embankments and wildfires. As hurricane season gets underway, repairing and updating these warning systems in 17 municipalities is part of the island’s ongoing recovery efforts.
“Disasters occur without waring and reestablishing these systems allows communities to act quickly during an emergency. These recovery funds will help families, especially those that live in vulnerable areas,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alex Amparo.
For the municipality of Humacao, the warning system proved especially helpful when Hurricane María made landfall.
“These sirens were installed in Punta Santiago and Palmas Del Mar to alert citizens in an emergency situation and to safeguard lives. During the hurricane, the siren had to be activated to alert citizens on sheltering. Thanks to this initiative, these people were saved,” said Marcos I. Ortiz, Systems Officer at the Emergency Management Office in Humacao.
Among the obligations to repair these systems is nearly $58,000 for the municipality of Toa Baja, which required replacing many of its electrical components. For the roughly 90,000 residents of this coastal town, the alarms represent a step forward in their recovery efforts as well as for a potential response in the future.
“Toa Baja was the first municipality after the hurricane to repair its alarms because it was a priority. We invested in repairing these sirens knowing that FEMA would reimburse these funds. It is an extraordinary conduit for mass communication. FEMA’s assistance was a fundamental element for the recovery and will help our municipality be better prepared than before Irma and María,” said the mayor of Toa Baja, Bernardo "Betito" Marquez.
Similarly, the municipality of Hatillo was approved for over $65,000 to repair three alert systems, located in Hotel Punta Maracayo, the Celia Monroseau passive park in the Hatillo del Mar neighborhood and the Municipal Police Station, in Comercio Street. Over 4,000 people will benefit from these repairs, which include roughly 1,000 residents in neighboring towns.
“The Tsunami Ready program is very important for all Hatillo residents because it is a warning system for everything related to earthquakes and tsunamis in our region. This way, people can prepare for emergencies and at the same time protect themselves and their families,” said the mayor of Hatillo, José A. “Chely” Rodríguez Cruz.
Likewise, the municipalities of Aguadilla, Añasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Camuy, Cataño, Carolina, Dorado, Fajardo, Guayama, Isabela, Juana Diaz, Maunabo, Salinas and Santa Isabel were also assigned FEMA funds to repair their tsunami alarm systems.
“Without a doubt, the recovery process is underway, addressing all the areas and sectors that are important for dealing with any future situation. In this case, warning systems are an important element for many communities because they serve as a means for prevention and saving the lives of citizens. We will continue to collaborate with both FEMA and the municipalities to keep developing projects that will make the island stronger and more prepared for natural disasters,” said the Executive Director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, or COR3, Ottmar Chávez.
FEMA works with COR3 through the agency’s Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and agencies of the Government of Puerto Rico for expenses related to hurricanes Irma and María. To date, over $6.8 billion has been approved for Puerto Rico under FEMA's Public Assistance program.
For more information on Puerto Rico's recovery after Hurricane María, visit fema.gov/disaster/4339 and recovery.pr. You can also follow FEMA's and COR3's social networks on Facebook.com/FEMAPuertoRico, Facebook.com/COR3pr and <Twitter@COR3pr>.