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Rebuilding Resiliently: Hill’s Support for the Puerto Rico Department of Housing’s R3 Program

In September 2017, Puerto Rico was struck by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, resulting in destruction and devastation across the island. According to an analysis from the Rand Corporation, Irma, a Category 5-storm, first knocked out power to the entire population, took most water treatment systems and plants offline, and even shut down cellular service for most residents along with damaging homes, roads, and other critical civil infrastructure. Then, less than two weeks after Irma, Category 4 storm Maria struck with the most intense winds Puerto Rico had experienced in nearly a century, plowing directly across the main island and compounding the flood damage wrought by Irma with up to 15 inches of additional rain over two days.

Following the storms, the Federal Government issued two major disaster declarations for Puerto Rico, enabling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin the immediate work of helping residents recover as well as more long-term help to help the island rebuild almost all of its infrastructure.

One key component of FEMA’s assistance is funding for the Puerto Rico Department of Housing’s (PRDOH) Repair, Reconstruction, or Relocation (R3) program. The R3 program helps eligible homeowners with substantial damage from Irma and Maria located in hazard zones (situated in a flood plain, floodway, or other areas vulnerable to landslide) to repair their damaged home and make them more resilient, rebuild their home from the ground up, or relocate to a new home.

Hill International, as a major subconsultant on the Plexos Group team, is supporting the PRDOH in implementing and executing the R3 program. Specifically, Plexos is providing overall program and construction management, and Hill is providing field inspections, quality oversight, procurement support, contract administration, and construction oversight management to help ensure projects are delivered in accordance with Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and PRDOH requirements. Hill International First Vice President, Southeast Region, Eladio Castrodad, PE, PMP, CGC, says of the assignment, “This is a major investment in Puerto Rico. It’s going to overhaul a great deal of the infrastructure in San Juan and elsewhere on the island, and it’s going to do so in a way that promotes future resiliency.” Ultimately, the PRDOH and R3 program will positively impact all the island’s 78 municipal governments as well as other eligible organizations.

Hill is overseeing work in the field to confirm compliance with standards and regulations and monitor progress. Hill’s support beings at the design and permitting stage and continues through the repair/reconstruction process until close-out of each residence.

Castrodad concludes: “Resiliency and disaster recovery program and project management is a core service for Hill, especially in the Caribbean. We understand the pressures and goals involved in these programs, and how to keep work progressing to help communities recover as planned. In addition, our prior work with Plexos on similar CDBG-DR programs in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy enables us to provide PRDOH with precisely the PM/CM support they need from day one.”

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Eladio Castrodad, PE, PMP, CGC, is responsible for Hill’s operations for the Southeast Region of the United States and the Caribbean. Based in Hill’s Miami office, Eladio oversees analysis of project objectives, solutions development, quality control, project deliverables, project execution within budget and schedule, development of project execution plans and procedures, project performance tracking, and project reporting. Contact Eladio at [email protected] or 305-468-4915.