WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Clinton today announced a record grant of more than $190 million in federal funds has been awarded to Puerto Rico by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help build disaster-resistant homes that will better protect families and reduce future damage from hurricanes and other severe weather.
The award, which is the largest ever approved under FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), is being made available for the New Safe Housing Program initiated by Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rossell?. It is designed to replace homes damaged during Hurricane Georges last year that pose threats to life and property due to their vulnerability to future storms.
"Hillary and I are pleased to move Puerto Rico's full recovery from Hurricane Georges with this major step. This partnership project with Gov. Rossell? will help to ensure that many of the Puerto Rican families whose homes were lost or seriously damaged will be able to live in safer housing," the President said. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton led a Presidential mission to the islands shortly after the hurricane caused widespread devastation last September and urged further federal assistance be provided.
"Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management," the President added. "It is with these types of joint and ongoing partnerships that we will be able to lessen the impact disasters have on people and property not only in Puerto Rico but nationwide as well."
The HMGP funding represents the 75 percent federal share of the $240 million in total project costs for removing damaged homes and constructing safer ones that comply with newly-adopted building codes. The remaining amount is being provided by the Government of Puerto Rico.
In addition to the HMGP, FEMA also has established a nationwide mitigation initiative called Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities. Project Impact aims to change the way America deals with disasters by encouraging communities to come together to assess their vulnerabilities to hazards and implement strategies to limit damage before disasters occur. Currently, 118 communities nationwide, including the municipality of Culebra, are participating in this innovative and successful endeavor.