Washington, DC -- Federal disaster funds were made available today to help local governments in 10 Puerto Rico municipalities recover from the effects of severe storms that began earlier this month, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued by President Bush following a review of the agency's analysis of the commonwealth's request for federal aid. The declaration covers damage to public property from the storms, flooding, mudslides and landslides that struck the northern and central regions of the island beginning November 7.
Under the declaration, Allbaugh said the commonwealth and affected local governments are eligible to apply for federal funding to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities.
The 10 municipalities designated by Allbaugh for the assistance include Barranquitas, Bayamon, Ciales, Corozal, Jayuya, Juncos, Morovis, Naranjito, San Lorenzo and Utuado.
Allbaugh said the declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the commonwealth for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more municipalities and additional forms of assistance may be designated later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Justo Hernandez of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to coordinate the federal relief effort. Hernandez said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.