Jenniffer González-Colón demands Corps of Engineers extend mission until everyone has electricity in Puerto Rico

by | May 16, 2018 | Congress | Comments

Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Jenniffer González-Colón (NPP,R), reiterated her call to the Army Corps of Engineers to extend its mission in Puerto Rico until the electrical service on the islands is completely restored during a speech today in the floor of the United States House of Representatives.

González-Colón, as the vice chair of the House Subcommittee on Island Affairs, also sent a letter along with the chair of the House Committee on Island Affairs, Congressman for California, Doug LaMalfa (R), to the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Corps of Engineers, demanding an extension.

In the letter, she highlighted the situation of about 40% of the population of the municipality of Yabucoa, who after eight months continue without service. In Puerto Rico, there are still 20,000 homes without service, according to a report on May 9 that FEMA presented to the resident commissioner. There are eleven municipalities with less than 89% of clients with electrical service; these are: Humacao, Las Piedras, San Lorenzo, Aguas Buenas, Maunabo, Morovis, Orocovis, Utuado, Jayuya, Adjuntas, and Yabucoa with 64.2%.

On Saturday, the Resident Commissioner brought Senator and member of the Committee on Appropriations, Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon, and Congressman LaMalfa, to Yabucoa, to confirm the needs facing that municipality. There they spoke with Mayor Rafael Surillo (PDP), representatives of the Corps of Engineers, FEMA and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

Merkley and LaMalfa joined González-Colón’s claims asking for an extension of the corps’ mission.

Back in March, following a request, the Corps of Engineers extended their stay, then estimating that they would have completed their mission by May 18, but as of the time of publishing, thousands in Puerto Rico remain without power.

Below is the message of the Resident Commissioner in the House floor:

Mr. Speaker, the Federal support for Puerto Rico power restoration must continue until full completion.

We still have twenty thousand homes without service, mostly in hard to reach rural communities. Customers still have an unstable system that suffers massive blackouts.

The current electrical restoration mission through FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, and the contracts under it, expire this Friday May 18.  This is alarming when there’s only sixteen days until the next hurricane season.

I must request of FEMA and the Corps to extend the mission, so crews can remain on the job full time in ALL affected communities, until the system is fully restored and secured, and to ensure there are material and human resources in place for any contingency.

Puerto Rico restoration of power must continue to be a priority. I must urge FEMA and the Corps in the strongest terms to maintain intensity of effort. The job needs to be finished.