Roofs in South Florida continued to be repaired by the day in wake of Hurricane Irma, which unofficially is fifth-costliest hurricane on record as it swept through the Caribbean in September.
While recovery efforts in Florida are improving and daily life is returning back to normal, there are still thousands of people waiting for roofs in Puerto Rico after the devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The Army Corps of Engineers has installed just under 20,000 permanent and temporary roofs in Puerto Rico as part of “Operation Blue Roof,” but still close to 50,000 applications for help remain and the process to construct roofs isn’t getting any faster after a dispute over a government contract.
Officials from the Corps told CNN they attempted to hire more contractors to pick up the pace, but it was interrupted by bidders who were not selected for the federal business.
While the Corps is still working to smooth out the bidding dispute and restart the work (installing 400 roofs per day with hope of doubling to 800), its slow work in a disaster zone has been criticized by locals needing help.
“We understand that people are living in tough situations, but it’s important for your readers to know we are working as hard as we can — 12-hour days, seven days a week,” Patrick Loch, a spokesman for the Corps told CNN. “We continue to look for contractors to up our numbers.”
The contract in question is a $93-million deal with Power & Instrumentation Services Inc. and Ceres Caribe Inc.
“Nobody did anything wrong. There’s no smoke,” Loch said. “It’s just the process of the awarding of contracts. We have to go through that process. It’s the way it works. When someone disputes the award, there’s a process, and we’re in that process right now.”
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