The Pricks

Blog Post 7

Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico 2017

Overview

Hurricane Maria was a tropical cyclone that turned deadly when it came in contact with the Dominica and Puerto Rico. It is said to be the worst natural disaster since 2004 in this area. Hurricane Maria was a category 5 hurricane and was the worst of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The damage caused by Maria mostly in Puerto Rico is estimated above $91.61 billion. Maria was a hurricane for 10 days from September 18-28th before reducing back into a tropical storm. The storm was gone by October 3 leaving only wreckage behind. Maria caused an island wide blackout and killed an estimated 3 thousand people. The storm brought the issue of flooding which caused much of the property damage. Maria wreaked Puerto Rico’s power grid and people that had houses to go back to were left without electricity. The agriculture of Dominica was destroyed because of the storm and there was much worry about food shortages.

Communication

Hurricane Maria took down the power grid leading to limited communications. Families couldn’t get in touch with each other even if they were both on the island of Porto Rico. Telephone lines were down and people didn’t have power. One of the only forms of communication was radio. The stations would broadcast nonstop just so that the people could have a connection to something. For a long time the death count was listed in the teens, but after investigation thousands more were discovered. The lack of connection on the island led to massive amounts of misinformation, which intern, underestimated the amount of external help that was required. People had to survive on their own using what they had, so by nature those that were more prepared suffered less. Those that had generators were much more successful than those without and gas became that of huge necessity. It took a while for communications to be restored, but as soon as it was, what was required could be truly assessed and provided.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfnSpdma5aQ sept 25 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6pjB9EuJ2U sept 24 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCX55cdGjHw sept 26 2017

 

Vulnerability

Hurricane Maria was especially devastating to the Caribbean due to the fact that the area had just been hit by Hurricane Irma a couple weeks prior and were still in recovery. Before the hurricane, Puerto Rico was in poor financial standing. Around 2015, Puerto Rico was in massive debt to the US government, and the governor announced the island could not pay any of its debt. The markets crashed, savings were gone, and pensions dissolved. The corrupt and mismanaged government was largely at fault for why Hurricane Maria was such a catastrophic disaster. The area was already on its way to a humanitarian crisis before the hurricane. With the island in financial ruin, they began to close down hospitals and neglect infrastructure. Roads, bridges, water treatment plants, dams, and other important features of the country had already been in poor shape for years before the storm. Electrical grids were outdated and in need of service. This explains why some communities in Puerto Rico were without power for nearly a year after the hurricane.

 

Future Improvements

Three strategies for individuals and communities to be better prepared and protected from future hazards and events. Being an island country these strategies can be hard to obtain or achieve.

  1. Resource supply. Individuals should greatly consider having an emergency back pack filled with an extra pair of clothing, food, water and if possible invest in a generator if they live in an area with less risk of losing their home or keeping a supply of generators available at a community building for public use if the use is ever needed. Puerto Rico’s weak electric grid was lost and many were without power for as long as eight months. Not enough people or institutions had generators to use as a backup. Not only was their not a backup plan, which there should be one implemented for different situations, but local stores did not have adequate amounts of emergency supplies, even the government warehouses were no prepared. To be able to lessen the disaster people and communities needs to be prepared for anything and everything. Being an Island, its not easy to obtain all the necessities unless they receive help and aid.
  2. Before the hurricane hit, Puerto Rico wasn’t in the greatest position structure wise. The electric grid was vulnerable, homes were not stable and even hospitals could have been in better shape. Since the hurricane, power has been restored and roads have been fixed and the hospitals were as the were before, but housing still remains an issue. In the long run, better building will help to prevent major damage. When rebuilding, people need to take into consideration where to rebuild. Areas prone to less damage would be better for housing and making vulnerable areas safer but not for residential use. Priority needs to be given to the most desperate places because the most vulnerable are the least likely to recover..
  3. Get creative. Many resort owners and developers will want to rebuild in area with diminished property values. Rebuilding with the wrong intentions can jeopardize the culture and reap economic damage to the people who once lived there. Although tourism can greatly help the economy, the citizens of affected area in tropical climates need to be wary and smart about what can happen to their community. Discover Puerto Rico is a non-profit to help being back tourism and help aid in recovery. Another huge issue is government. The government needs to be a much better job putting the people first in these situations. Puerto Rico a colony of the US and it gets taken advantage of and pushed aside and that cannot happen.  Puerto Rico’s economy is suffering and as a result of that and the hurricane, they are losing citizen to the mainland, and with less people there are less to keep supporting the economy and culture.

Recovery strategies are not always possible due to lack of aid, money and other resources. Strategies like these are much easier said than done. If more people, especially the government care more, recovery would be a much easier path than what it currently is.

 

Implementations

The most important part will have a plan. After the Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, there was the shortage for the resource supply, but the supply arrives on the island too late with the enormous amount that it became out of control in the area. Those supply impacts on the economy of Puerto Rico to restart the market in the area. If there is a plan for the Hurricane, the supply will come faster, with the right amount. To prevent in the future, the information and education of the Hurricane with how to pack the emergency backpack will be necessary for the area. After the Hurricane Maria, some of the places in the islands are out of electric more than eight months. To have better access to the infrastructure, there needs to be the improvement of the Electric Power Authority. Before the Hurricane Maria hits the island, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was not working well in the area. Have better Electric Power Authority in the safe places in the island will be important. The many of power lines are temporally in the island so there need be ongoing construction for the powerlines.

 

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