First-ever award for natural resource restoration by FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Program

A graphic displaying a large circular storm in green and yellow overtop a black outline of an island.
Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico in September 2017. Credit: National Weather Service.

For the first time ever, FEMA Hazard Mitigation money, disaster relief funds, will be allocated toward coral restoration. After back-to-back hurricanes, a couple of earthquakes, and the outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease, Puerto Rico's coral reefs are in need of some TLC. And, with rebuilt coral reefs, Puerto Rico's coastal communities will be protected against future natural disasters.

Funding: $3 million allocated for first phase, out of $38.6 million for the overall initiative

Location: The barrier coral reef system offshore of Escambrón, Condado, Ocean Park, and Puntas Las Marías, which are all San Juan coastal communities

A view of waves crashing on a rocky shoreline in front of high rise buildings.
Coral reefs are natural breakwaters in front of oceanfront properties. Credit: EWN

Wow factor: This is the first-ever award from the Hazard Mitigation Program to restore a natural resource.

Details: Puerto Rico's Department of Natural and Environmental Resources will use the funds to create 3D coral reef structures, which will reduce wave energy on the beach. The coral reef structures will be a mix of artificial and living coral that work together to protect the shoreline. Additionally three artificial reefs will be placed nearshore to reduce rough surf and dangerous currents around the public beach areas have caused drownings in the past.