The government of Puerto Rico assured that it is ready to face any emergency that may arise during the hurricane season that begins on June 1.
“We are ready to face the worst scenario,” said Secretary of the Government Noelia García Bardales, according to local media Primera Hora.
She announced that the agencies involved – to respond to possible emergencies – will now have two inter-agency coordinators to optimize actions.
The commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Emergency Administration, Nino Correa, said that specialists in FEMA’s preparedness plans met with local authorities to develop a multi-agency plan for this coming hurricane season, which will be more active than normal with the formation of between 6 and 10 hurricanes, according to meteorologists’ estimates.
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Correa emphasized that the development of the emergency plan has taken into account the COVID-19 pandemic and all the adjustments it entails, including social distancing in shelters, as well as isolation areas for people with symptoms of possible contagion.
Coordination will be made with people who have gone to shelters on previous occasions to facilitate COVID vaccines.
There are 346 shelters throughout the island with a capacity for 38,696 socially distanced people. Among the buildings that will serve as shelters, there are 278 schools, as well as community centers, churches, and private centers.
LUMA Energy’s role
LUMA Energy’s chief executive officer, Wayne Stensby, assured that by that date they will have the necessary personnel to attend to possible failures of the electric service. LUMA Energy is the consortium that on June 1 took over the transmission and distribution operations of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).
Stensby affirmed that they have created action plans for possible emergencies, which have already been approved to work with Puerto Rico agencies and FEMA, to be integrated to provide effective responses.
“We have the people, we have the equipment, we have an emergency operations center that will be in Santurce. We are ready to begin our obligation to put customers first, and we are anxious to get started,” Stensby said.
The LUMA executive distanced himself from the outages that thousands of customers are suffering throughout the island and reaffirmed that they have enough personnel. “As we speak here we are orienting hundreds of people all over Puerto Rico. By Tuesday we will have all the necessary personnel.”
The Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR) has 8,500 troops, of which 96% are on the island.
The adjutant general of the GNPR, General José Reyes, assured that the vehicles they use in emergency response are at 100%, “that means that you go to one of our armories, put the key in the vehicle and you can go out to support Puerto Rico. Our units are ready and we are ready to support all of Puerto Rico in case of emergency”.
General Reyes added that in case of hurricanes of greater intensity, there are pre-agreements with more than seven states to receive assistance. “We have divided the island into four task zones, which has made the support response more flexible in case of an emergency,” he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting a very active Atlantic hurricane season this year, although less so than in 2020.
The meteorological agency indicated that between 13 and 20 storms are expected this year; and between 6 and 10 hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, of which between 3 and 5 could be of great magnitude.