The Plight of Puerto Rico – updated

From Reuters: Power blackout leaves darkened Puerto Rico isolated and paralyzed.

The Diva thinks the situation is Puerto Rico is more dire than any ever seen in the U.S. The extent of the devastation and the fact that both the power co. and the  Commonwealth government seem to resemble post-war Germany more than any example of the aftermath of a natural disaster in the U.S.

As of Sept. 27, several newspapers have articles that detail how poorly the disaster response is going, giving President Trump some of the blame for lack of leadership.

Presently, I doubt that the National Disaster Recovery Framework will be adequate to deal with the extensive damage and unique requirements of Puerto Rico. The ratio of destruction is higher than any previous natural disaster. Therefore, the  recovery process may need a Marshall Plan approach.

Please see comments from readers that follow.

Update: On Sept. 28th, see this article from the NYTimes, which also mentions a Marshall Plan type recovery plan: Washington Set Puerto Rico Up for Disaster

3 thoughts on “The Plight of Puerto Rico – updated

  1. Anonymous Comment from a reader:

    Indeed, the Diva is right on this point. But the ability to meet the recovery needs on Puerto Rico in a long-term sense will not be met by FEMAs National Disaster Recovery System teams. Here is why:

    Hurricane Maria is being called a Type 1 disaster – this is from the National Incident Management System 1 – 5 scale that determines Incident Complexity. Hurricane Katrina was a Type 2, and this is being discussed as probably being a Type 1 disaster, the first we have seen since FEMA’s founding in 1978.

    Despite this Type 1 designation, recovery efforts by FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery System teams will not last the duration of the recovery process on Puerto Rico or USVI. This is primarily because the NDRS teams primarily invest in Early Recovery interventions and are not designed to provide Long-Term Recovery support to stricken communities. FEMA command staff and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators commonly determine a point in time when NDRS teams completely pull out and leave recovery up to the state and locals. In most disasters, this might mean 18 months or so of time and investment. The Hurricane Sandy recovery went on much longer than this, and FEMAs Region II staff still work on supporting communities affected in that disaster, but in general, this kind of sustained effort is the exception and not the rule.

    This begs the question – who will be responsible for the very long-term investment required for a sustained and holistic recovery? Where will the support that Puerto Rico needs come from?

  2. We as a society have a tremendous opportunity and obligation to work in partnership with our fellow American Citizens in Puerto Rico to make their Electric System a model for Resilience. The Puerto Rico Electric Utility is government owned and therefore, I believe, eligible for FEMA Public Assistance rebuilding funds. Based on past experience, such funds are likely to be provided at the 100% level. The Stafford Act, the Federal Legislation regulating such rebuilding requires reconstruction to current codes and standards and very importantly the legislation also provides for additional hazard mitigation funding designed to reduce future damages. See, PL 93-288 Section 406.

    This disaster is an opportunity to take the Prepa system and make it a National or even World model of Resilience. We owe such reconstruction to our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico; such thoughtful reconstruction can also serve as a basis for improving US Mainland Utility standards too.

    Bloomberg has a great article on Prepa:

    Ed Thomas

  3. Claire:-

    You may well be right about the Marshall Plan aspects – at least the right analogy, I think. This is somewhat complicated by the tangled legal and financial affairs of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans.

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