Congress Probes FEMA For Paying Huge Markups On Puerto Rico Recovery Supplies

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Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

GOP Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming is pressing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to explain the stiff markups it is paying on supplies and labor to help rebuild Puerto Rico.

Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, sent a letter to FEMA administrator Brock Long Thursday requesting information on the Tu Hogar Renace program. The program is FEMA-funded and run by the Puerto Rico Department of Housing and has roughly $1.2 billion to dole out to Puerto Ricans for the purpose of helping rebuild their damaged homes. (RELATED: Taxpayers Are Paying Huge Sums To A System Of ‘Middlemen’ In Puerto Rico)

“I am troubled by recent reports that federal disaster-relief money intended to help Puerto Rico residents recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria has gone to pay excessive contractor markups and overhead costs,” Enzi wrote.

“This has led to the Puerto Rico Department of Housing receiving close to 3,900 complaints from program participants,” Enzi added. “While I understand that sending materials to Puerto Rico on tight deadlines and with the island’s infrastructure affects the costs of materials for repairs, I remained concerned that without proper oversight and controls, money intended to assist disaster survivors has and will be wasted.”

The purchase and installation of a typical $50 door would cost about $700 in Puerto Rico. Power generators that cost $800 are being sold for $3,700. Subcontractors repair roofs for about $1.64 a square foot, but FEMA is spending around $4 a square foot by the time all the requisite paperwork is completed, The New York Times reported Monday.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long listens as U.S. President Donald Trump holds an Oval Office meeting on preparations for hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

FEMA Administrator Brock Long listens as U.S. President Donald Trump holds an Oval Office meeting on preparations for hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Puerto Rico was left severely crippled after Hurricane Maria struck the Island in September 2017. Maria completely destroyed tens of thousands of homes and left hundreds of thousands more with major damage.

The storm and its effects killed approximately 2,975 people, according to a George Washington University study. Most of Puerto Rico lost power and hundreds of thousands were left in the dark for months.

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