Almost four years after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that shook the country, mainly the southern area, the Municipality of Guayanilla maintains an active action plan to demolish the last 10 homes, of the 100 that were severely affected that January 7, 2020 and , while that happens, It also directs efforts to relocate the hundred families who, as a result of the emergency, do not have a safe home.
“Those 10 houses that remain, (the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA) does not want to give permission for us to demolish them. Then, we turned to (Department of) Housing so that they give us the opportunity to demolish them without asking for reimbursement. “We are waiting for the Fiscal Control Board to give us the go-ahead to demolish those 10 houses.”said the mayor of Guayanilla, Raul Rivera Rodriguez.
The first municipal executive explained that “Each house can cost $25,000 to $30,000 to demolish. We already have an auction and a municipal brigade that does these jobs, what is missing is for the Control Board to authorize the use of those funds.”
Guayanilla is part of the Southern Consortium (Consur), made up of six municipalities in the area that seek to expedite the processes for the recovery of residences affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks.
In addition to Guayanilla, Consur is made up of Guanica, Lajas, Penuelas, Ponce and Yauco.
Rivera Rodriguez reported that The consortium achieved an allocation of $136 million, which will be divided among the six municipalities, for the acquisition of homes and the repair of houses affected by the tremors.
Behind a safe roof
As for the 100 families he hopes to relocate soon, the mayor said that 32 are in the area of greatest danger and risk of flooding, near the coast, in the El Faro neighborhood.
Of the 32, 20 were eligible for relocation, because, according to Rivera Rodriguez, “there are some that are summer homes and not primary residences.”
“The governor (Pedro Pierluisi) assigned us a task to relocate those people as quickly as possible and we have built houses, we bought houses, we acquired houses from the Department of Housing, we repaired them. And, of those 20, we have relocated 12 families and we have 7 spaces, between Housing and private, that we will be acquiring in the coming days”he anticipated.
He also pointed out that families have the opportunity to choose their residences among the properties presented to them by the city council, including repossessed or privately acquired properties.
“So far, we have invested between $65,000 and $70,000 in Housing funds in each of the houses, between the time I buy them and the time I repair them. Once we acquire them, we begin the process of repairing them: roof sealing, interior and exterior painting, water and electricity certification, changing toilets and cabinets, if necessary. Everything that the house has (deficient), because we deliver it to you in optimal conditions,” he assured.
Improvements to CDT
Likewise, Rivera Rodriguez alluded to the efforts to recover the town’s vital infrastructure, such as the Isaias Rodriguez Diagnostic and Treatment Center (CDT).
He noted that nearly $500,000 in federal funds were invested in improvements to the hospital institution to provide 24-hour service. “The problem of the tremors was corrected, because we had to seal the roof in its entirety, since water was seeping everywhere due to the aftermath of the earthquakes.”. We work in the area of air conditioners, because it is law that it has to have good ventilation and a good temperature,” said the mayor.
“What remains for us is to fix the parking lot, we already signed the contract and the company is going to be repaving the parking lot… and painting some exterior walls,” he added.
New projects in the pipeline
The municipal executive announced, on the other hand, that they are working on the design of a roundabout, which will be built at the intersection of Albizu Campos Avenue and the PR-127 highway.
“This roundabout is a big project that has already started and will be funded City Revitalization. It will be at the entrance of the municipality and, with this, we seek to improve the aesthetics of the entrance to our town, but, at the same time, stimulate the growth of businesses and continue investing so that we can continue developing economically.”highlighted Rivera Rodriguez, who estimated that construction will begin next January.
In the same way, he highlighted the investment of $10 million – in combined funds – in a road resurfacing project, with which, he stated, 80% of the roads in the field have already been impacted, with the expectation of starting soon in the urban area.
“We are working on repaving our entire municipality with FEMA funds, CDBG-DR and legislative funds. Right now, we have brigades working in the rural area. In the countryside we are almost 80% complete, we already have 60% of municipal roads repaved and 75% of state roads have also been improved. We have the town area left. We estimate that by October we should be repaving all the developments in our urban area,” he indicated.
Meanwhile, Guayanilla also awaits the construction of the Lenin Lopez Coliseum and the Luis A. “Pegui” Mercado Toro stadium.
“We are already working on both things simultaneously and we hope that, in the month of November, we will have the design and can move on to the construction stage,” announced the mayor, who did not reveal the investment in these projects, although he did advance that will be worked with FEMA funds.