A dispute over a government contract has slowed efforts to build temporary roofs for people in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, officials from the US Army Corps of Engineers told CNN.
The Army Corps runs a program called “Operation Blue Roof,” which provides and installs temporary roofs for people on the Caribbean island that was devastated by Hurricane Maria more than two months ago.
Since then, the Army Corps has installed 17,672 roofs in Puerto Rico as part of that program — only 26% of the 66,906 applications for such roofing help.
In November, the Army Corps tried to hire additional contractors to double the pace of its work, according to John Vandiver, contracting officer at the Army Corps. Those awards were disputed, he said, and as a result additional construction efforts have not been able to continue.
The Army Corps is installing about 400 so-called blue roofs per day, said Kevin Slattery, mission manager for that team. But the Corps would like to double that capacity to 800, he said.
“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,” said Patrick Loch, a spokesman for the Army Corps. “We continue to look for contractors to up our numbers.”
“Work is still being done. That original contract is still good, and blue roofs are still being installed in Puerto Rico,” Loch said. “It’s just that right now we’re not able to ramp that up.”