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FEMA partially extends Army Corps' power restoration work in Puerto Rico

The Federal Emergency Management Agency extended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' work to maintain emergency generators in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico but ended, as of May 18, the Corps' assignment to help the island's public utility rebuild power lines.

FEMA on May 17 announced it had approved Puerto Rico's request to extend the Corps' mission to help the island recover from hurricanes Maria and Irma, which slammed into the Commonwealth in September 2017. The extension allows for the lease, generation and maintenance of three "mega generators" until the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, completes its purchase of the equipment. The extension will also provide continued support for more than 700 emergency generators in use in Puerto Rico and will maintain the Corps' logistics and materials management capabilities.

FEMA said the Corps would not provide line restoration work for PREPA past May 18, following through on its previously announced target to halt that work. PREPA will now oversee its contractors and any remaining work on grid restoration, according to FEMA.

At a recent hearing, congressional lawmakers blasted FEMA's decision to halt some power restoration work May 18 even though thousands in Puerto Rico are still without power eight months after the hurricanes hit the Caribbean island. As of May 8, more than 23,000 Puerto Ricans, or 1.6% of the island, were without electricity.