Blue Community Program Coastal Sustainability Best Practices

Puerto Rico: Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best, Puerto Rico's Worst Case Scenario

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     The storm is coming… what do we do? Oh wait, there is another storm coming too. How does one prepare for a hurricane that is being projected to be the worst storm of the century? After Hurricane Irma which grazed the island in early September 2017 causing some damage, the island of Puerto Rico was faced with a challenge. The state of Florida had taken the brunt of the hit of Irma, and its ports and other means to get supplies to Puerto Rico were shut down and closed off from aiding in the US territory to prepare for Hurricane Maria. In previous years, when a hurricane was approaching, the island would get some supplies from the United States, to help prepare and rebuild after a storm. 2017 was a different year. In preparation for Maria, the United Sates offering one hundred percent aid was essentially not a question. This meant Puerto Rico, an island in the path of destruction, was alone. So, why is it that what was ever the norm, not acceptable this time? Furthermore, how does this island prepare for hurricanes considering an abnormal hurricane season?

      In looking at what the previous years look like with hurricanes and Puerto Rico’s preparations, there is room to growth given their location in the cross hairs of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. In interviewing a Puerto Rican native whom has since left seeking much safer land, Demaris Rosado- Alverado has advised numerous beneficial thoughts regarding prior preparations and recoveries in comparison to this one and what might the future look like. When posed with the question of in previous years the efforts that were taking to ensure the safety of the islanders and to ensure life on the island post storm would not be hindered, she responded that “[S]omething new on the island is tsunami alarms installed in the past few years. When the storms are coming- thunder or hurricane- the news does 24-hour broadcast, all other shows are suspended” (Rosado-Alverado, 2017). Taking into consideration of these methods, this would help prepare anyone on the island for the impending storms. Prior to these changes, there was not much done regarding broadcasting the need for concern. Ms. Rosado-Alverado also said that previously, [T]he government will not evacuate the island, but do evacuate off the shore lines to more inland locations” (Rosado-Alverado, 2017). Having the only evacuation methods where they only bring the people inlands, shows just the amount of preparation the island really does. They do try to stock the people with supplies, but when ships and supplies stop coming in in preparation of the storm, then they are at a standstill. The prior commitments to protecting the island were very minimal, and showed in their preparation for Maria. Ms. Rosado- Alverado also explained that with the dependency on the doppler system, the island will have to prepare some other way as in Maria, it was destroyed and blown away.

     Looking forward to the preparation of Puerto Rico for Hurricane Irma, they attempted the ‚Äčisland attempted to do its part. FEMA’s primary response with Irma was preparing Florida for the storm, and bypassed focusing on Puerto Rico due to the small probability of being struck. However, when talking to Ms. Rosado- Alverado, the question was posed of what efforts were made pre-storm to prepare for continuing life after the storm, and what support was given from the United States and if there was any from other countries? The response was “[N]othing was really done because it was not a big threat to Puerto Rico. After the storm, life was hectic in preparing for Maria. There were no supplies given to Puerto Rico or assistance for Irma, the supplies provided were solely for preparations for Maria” (Rosado-Alverado, 2017). There was little to no preparation or reconstruction needed from Irma, rather the islanders were preparing for Maria with whatever supplies they could get.

    

     Maria will go down as a record breaking storm for Puerto Rico. There were no preparations large enough that would help the island prepare for the storm. FEMA was called in to help with preparations on September 17th, with “fully activated all emergency support functions operations, including Department of Defense liaisons. FEMA holds daily video- teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies” (FEMA, 2017). Beyond this, there were many other efforts taken place from the Army, Air Force, US Geological Survey, and other agencies providing support, intelligence and supplies to the islanders to ensure life after the storm would be possible. In talking to Ms. Rosado-Alverado, when asked concerning Maria, how has preparation efforts put in place to ensure the safety of Puerto Rico’s citizens? What sort of aid did they receive in preparing the island for the historic storm it was anticipating? What countries were there to help? Her response was resounding. She states that “The Army, FEMA, National Guard, Marines came and made logistic camps to ensure safety and took over the convention center as headquarters. It was a very hands on preparation for Maria including the local government. Th US helped along with Cub, Dominican Republic, Great Britain and Canada have all offered and suppled assistance to Puerto Rico after the storm” (Rosado-Alverado, 2017). To see the response from not only the US but other countries due to the amount of devastation this storm made. There was a group response to this storm and many others came to the aid of an island facing historic devastation. The United States has provided a good amount of aid, but has it been enough to show the unity with Puerto Rico being a US territory. On they day before Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, FEMA noted that “FEMA and federal personnel also remain in place and in close coordination with the Governor of Puerto Rico. One Type 4 FEMA US & R team and one canine team arrived in Puerto Rico. The Department of Health and Human Services deploys one Disaster Medical Assistance Team to Puerto Rico” (FEMA, 2017).

     Surely enough, with all of these supplies, resources and prior precautions taking place, the islanders should be safe?

Bibliography

Channel 7 News San Diego. (2017). Preparation for Hurrican Maria Underway in Puerto Rico. Retrieved from https://www.nbcsandiego.com/multimedia/Preparation-for-Hurricane-Maria-Underway-in-Puerto-Rico_Miami-445469873.html

FEMA. (2017). Overview of Federal Efforts to Prepare for and Respond to Hurricane Maria. FEMA.gov.

Rosado-Alverado, D. (2017, November 2). Puerto Rico. (R. Rosinski-Kennell, Interviewer)

 

 

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Citation

Rosinski-Kennell, R. (2017). Puerto Rico: Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best, Puerto Rico's Worst Case Scenario. Retrieved from http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/5a1b88410cf26bc6ab8f166f

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