Update on July 14: Editorial in the NYTimes: FEMA Admits It Failed Puerto Rico. Can It Do Any Better? The agency’s disorganization and a lack of supplies and personnel contributed to the havoc.
This Tiny Country Says It Can Beat Climate Change . Hurricane Maria turned Dominica into a foreign-funded laboratory for stormproofing an entire nation. Progress so far is hard to see. Some background:
Maria inflicted $1.3 billion in damage, equal to 225 percent of the country’s annual economic output—more than twice the corresponding figure in nearby Puerto Rico. It destroyed or severely damaged almost half the island’s 29,000 buildings, along with much of its power and telecom infrastructure; the island’s towns remain pockmarked by the husks of ruined homes, its forests littered with half-toppled trees. As many as a third of residents have fled.
NIST Launches Study of Hurricane Maria’s Impact on Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it will study the impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, focusing specifically on the performance of critical buildings and their dependence on distributed infrastructure (such as electricity and water), as well as emergency communications and the public’s response to those communications.
From the NYTimes, this detailed, well-researched account of the electric grid problems before and after Hurricane Maria. See: How Storms, Missteps and an Ailing Grid Left Puerto Rico in the Dark. “It took months to restore electricity in Puerto Rico after hurricanes dealt a one-two punch. Many homes are still without power, and the system’s future is far from certain.”
There are many elements of this article worth delving into, but one that I would like to highlight is this question: Is the Stafford Act adequate to deal with a catastrophic event?
From National Public Radio (5/1/18): How FEMA Failed to Help Victims of Hurricanes in Puerto Rico Recover.
Also on 5/1, the Public Television show Frontline did a program titled The Blackout in Puerto Rico.
Update: My fellow blogger, Eric Holdeman also posted comments about these citations, and ends with a worthy warning:
Thus, when people point the finger at Mike Byrne [federal coordinating officer] and FEMA, remember that three fingers are pointing back at you and others. You own a portion of this failure to have a national culture of preparedness and community resilience.
From the Weather Channel this report re Hurricane Maria.10 Jaw Dropping Findings from the NHC’s Final Hurricane Maria Report. The focus is on the meteorology aspects, but the finding are indeed scary.
Thanks to Ian McLean for the citation.
Concern is growing in those places still recovering from 2017 hurricanes about the coming of the 2018 hurricane season, as of the first of June. See:
The original Politico Article: How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico. A POLITICO investigation shows a persistent double standard in the president’s handling of relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria.
The rebuttal from HSToday: What Politico Missed in FEMA Hurricane Response Investigation.