(January 8, 2020 – La Fortaleza, San Juan) Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced advised yesterday that the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump signed last night the Emergency Declaration for Direct Federal Assistance (DFA per its English acronym) for Puerto Rico, an immediate and short-term measure that will allow the federal government to carry out or contract the corresponding work after the seismic events of the past days.
This emergency declaration covers all of the island’s 78 municipalities and will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist Puerto Rico in emergency protection measures, under Category B of the Federal Law Stafford Act in accordance with the law, these tasks are carried out before, during and after an incident to eliminate or reduce immediate threats.
“As a result of the earthquakes the municipalities of Puerto Rico have been affected with blackouts, debris, and infrastructure and business damages. The magnitude of this event is so serious that the state government and the municipal governments of Puerto Rico do not have the capacity to respond effectively,” the Governor said in her letter to the President.
The First Executive thanked President Trump and the FEMA’s Acting Administrator, Pete Gaynor, for the prompt response to the emergency and also stated that “the Government of Puerto Rico is committed to recovering from the damage that these earthquakes have caused and continue to cause.”
As part of the measures to save lives and protect health and safety, Puerto Rico may receive assistance in transporting and pre-positioning of equipment and other resources for a response and for costs related to the Emergency Operation Center.
In addition, the island can receive assistance for emergency access, supplies and commodities, medical care and transportation, evictions and shelters, safety inspections, removal of dead animals, search and rescue, firefighting services, security threats, mass care, as well as the use or rental of temporary generators for facilities that provide essential community services.
As for the protection of real estate property, assistance may include the construction of temporary levees for the protection against landslides, emergency repairs necessary to prevent major damage, retaining walls, sustaining or strengthening facilities to stabilize and prevent landslides; and the temporary stabilization of inclinations or mold treatment.
In addition, the Governor appointed the Executive Director of the Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3 per its Spanish acronym), Ottmar Chávez, as the Authorized Representative of the Governor (GAR per its English acronym), and the Secretary of State, Elmer Román, as the State Coordinator (SCO per its English acronym) for this emergency declaration.
For his part, Chavez said that “We thank President Trump and the Acting Administrator Gaynor for their immediate support after unexpected emergency across the island. At this time, the response of the federal government is crucial to be able to assist Puerto Rico in its recovery. Following the approval of this emergency declaration, we predict a more comprehensive response. ”
The Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Jennifer M. Storipan, said that “We are working to ensure that Governor Vázquez Garced’s recently granted request for Direct Federal Assistance is a preliminary step in a package that provides aid for the people of Puerto Rico. We expect swift action and open channels of communications as we move forward with our recovery efforts.
The DFA Emergency Declaration is subject to a cost share between the federal (75%) and local (25%) government.