US FEMA Was Sorely Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricane, Report Says

07:02  13 july  2018
07:02  13 july  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

Judge orders housing extension for hurricane victims as Puerto Rico, FEMA ignite spat

  Judge orders housing extension for hurricane victims as Puerto Rico, FEMA ignite spat <p>A federal judge ordered the federal government on Tuesday to continue providing housing assistance until later this month for hundreds of Puerto Ricans who evacuated after Hurricane Maria.</p>U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman ruled Tuesday that a temporary restraining will remain in place until midnight on July 23, giving the evacuees until checkout time to leave on July 24. About 950 residents remain in hotels and other FEMA housing units.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ’s plans for a crisis in Puerto Rico were based on a focused disaster like a tsunami, not a major hurricane devastating the whole island. To aid those islands, FEMA had depleted its Puerto Rico warehouse, the report says .

Hurricane Maria collapsed so much of Puerto Rico that all levels of government failed to “This isn’t a Third World country in South America.” De La Campa said FEMA might have to revise its Sosa Pascual reports for Puerto Rico ’s Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI), which worked jointly

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s plans for a crisis in Puerto Rico were based on a focused disaster like a tsunami, not a major hurricane devastating the whole island. The agency vastly underestimated how much food and fresh water it would need, and how hard it would be to get additional supplies to the island.

EXCLUSIVE: Cuomo wants Trump administration to reimburse New York for helping Puerto Rican hurricane victims

  EXCLUSIVE: Cuomo wants Trump administration to reimburse New York for helping Puerto Rican hurricane victims Gov. Cuomo is demanding that the Trump administration pay back New York for helping Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, as retribution for its “failures” in handling the island’s recovery. In a sharp rebuke Saturday, the governor said while the state welcomed more than 11,000 Puerto Ricans with “open arms” — providing them with affordable housing and job placement services — the federal government “abandoned Puerto Rico in their time of need.”“Today the people of Puerto Rico are still recovering from the consequences of the federal government’s impotence and neglect,” Cuomo said.

FEMA is hiring US citizens to support Hurricane Maria recovery. Click here for more information on how to join our team. Clean-Up Tips. The government of Puerto Rico and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offer Preliminary Damage Assessment Report . PDA Report ; FEMA -4339-DR.

Yet, according to The Washington Post, Trump barely mentioned Puerto Rico at the FEMA meeting yesterday: He briefly referred to Puerto Rico —where authorities now say thousands died as a result of last year’s hurricane .

And when the killer storm did come, FEMA’s warehouse in Puerto Rico was nearly empty, its contents rushed to aid the United States Virgin Islands, which were hammered by another storm two weeks before. There was not a single tarpaulin or cot left in stock.

Those and other shortcomings are detailed in a FEMA report assessing the agency’s response to the 2017 storm season, when three major hurricanes slammed the United States in quick succession, leaving FEMA struggling to deliver food and water quickly to storm victims in Puerto Rico.

Sign Up for the Morning Briefing Newsletter

The after-action report describes an initially chaotic and disorganized relief effort on the island that was plagued with logistical problems and stretched into the longest feeding mission in the agency’s history.

The Latest: 20,000 lose power in Puerto Rico storm

  The Latest: 20,000 lose power in Puerto Rico storm Officials in Puerto Rico say more than 20,000 customers have lost power due to the remnants of Hurricane Beryl, which is hitting the island with rains and gusty winds. Gov. Ricardo Rossello says the rains are likely to continue for another 10 to 12 hours, hitting hardest in the east. Officials say large trees have fallen and blocked several roads, one river has burst its banks and a landslide has been reported in the northern town of Naranjito.So far there are no reports of injuries.___11:40 a.m.

FEMA says food and water deliveries will continue after reports of a cutoff drew criticism from members of Congress and the mayor of San Juan. In the months since Hurricane Maria, hundreds of thousands of people living in Puerto Rico have left for the U.S. mainland.

Hurricane Maria pummels Puerto Rico - video report . The spokesperson said Fema ’s top priority is protecting the lives and safety of those impacted by the Hurricane Maria .

The report confirms many of the criticisms that have been leveled at the agency, especially in Puerto Rico, which President Trump visited a few weeks after Hurricane Maria and complained that the disaster “threw our budget a little out of whack.” At the time, the island’s hospitals were struggling to function, shortages of diesel fuel were keeping supermarkets closed and generators idle, and the death rate on the island was soaring.

The 2017 hurricane season in the United States was the most destructive on record. According to the report, nearly five million people registered for FEMA assistance last year, exceeding the combined total from four previous major hurricanes — Rita, Wilma, Katrina and Sandy. The 2017 storms caused a total of $265 billion in damage and badly stretched FEMA’s capacity to respond.

The report says FEMA had thousands fewer workers than it needed, and many of those it had were not qualified to handle such major catastrophes. FEMA had to borrow many workers from other agencies to help it manage the immense demand for essentials, from hotel rooms to drinking water, in the aftermath of the storms.

Judge orders extension of FEMA housing aid to displaced Puerto Rico families

  Judge orders extension of FEMA housing aid to displaced Puerto Rico families A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to continue paying temporary hotel stays for another 20 days for hundreds of Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria. The order by US District Court Judge Timothy Hillman represents another small reprieve for families who have been staying at hotels under FEMA's Transitional Sheltering Assistance program -- extending the housing vouchers until checkout time on July 24 as the court determines whether an additional extension is needed.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said Wednesday the agency was not cutting off aid to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico , walking back statements one of their officials made in an incendiary NPR report on Monday. In an interview with the outlet, a FEMA official said that food and

A White House official said Trump is planning to visit Puerto Rico , but a date has not been set because of infrastructure concerns on the island. Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA administrator Brock Long were traveling to Puerto Rico

Although FEMA distributed 130 million meals, 35 million of them in Puerto Rico, the report says the agency took longer than expected to secure supplies and lost track of much of the aid it delivered and who needed it.

The report was expected to be made public on Monday, but the agency released it shortly after The New York Times reported on a draft obtained in advance. Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement that the report “provides a transformative roadmap for how we respond to future catastrophic incidents.”

There were minor differences in the two versions. For example, the final version no longer contains a paragraph noting that FEMA’s hurricane plans had so underestimated disaster impacts that the agency used a five-year-old earthquake and tsunami plan.

The report underscores how ill-prepared the agency was to manage a crisis outside the continental United States, like the one in Puerto Rico. And it urges communities in harm’s way not to count so heavily on FEMA in a future crisis.

“The 2017 hurricane season showed that all levels of government — and individual families — need to be much better prepared with their own supplies, particularly in remote or insular areas where commodities take longer to deliver,” the agency administrator, Brock Long, wrote in the draft report. “In Puerto Rico, little of the communications infrastructure survived Hurricane Maria, and as a result, it was extremely difficult for the local, territory, or federal agencies to know what was needed and where in the immediate aftermath of the storm.”

Puerto Rico’s deadly record blackout is almost over

  Puerto Rico’s deadly record blackout is almost over Unfortunately, we’re already in another hurricane season. The second-largest blackout on record worldwide is finally just about over. More than nine months after Hurricane Maria struck, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is reporting that it has restored power to 99.9 percent of its customers:La AEE alega que le restableció el servicio al 99.9% de sus abonados -CC1 https://t.co/uzwmT2tJO0— AEE (@AEEONLINE) July 3, 2018That still leaves 1,942 customers without electricity, mainly in the island’s remote, mountainous center. But every municipality is now receiving power, which is progress.

As the start of Puerto Rico 's hurricane season nears, a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ) official warns the territory Officials said FEMA will have a presence in Puerto Rico for several years to help it rebuild. The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report

ProPublica requested a copy of the Puerto Rico hurricane annex as part of its reporting on the federal response to Maria, the scale and speed Early last week, a FEMA spokesman said he would provide a copy of the plan that afternoon. It never came. After a week of follow-ups, FEMA sent a

Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 storm, knocking out all of the island’s electric power and most of its cellphone towers. At that time, thousands of FEMA workers were already deployed in Florida and Texas, where Hurricane Irma had left six million people without power and Hurricane Harvey had forced 780,000 from their homes.

Irma had skirted Puerto Rico on its way to Florida two weeks earlier, but it had devastated the United States Virgin Islands. To aid those islands, FEMA had depleted its Puerto Rico warehouse, the report says. And even before Irma, the warehouse held only 250,000 meals, a small fraction of what would ultimately be needed.

Further, the report says, FEMA failed to take account of the logistical problems that its own disaster planning drills had shown it could face when coping with a disaster in Puerto Rico.

It took several days for the first barge carrying food and water to reach the island after the storm, and when the aid arrived, so many of the island’s truck drivers were grappling with their own storm damage that hardly any were available to move the FEMA aid out of the island’s seaports, the report says.

“We got food and supplies to the people of Puerto Rico before FEMA did — I know that for a fact,” said Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois, who made several trips to the island after the storm and plans to retire there in January. He said FEMA had been “ill-prepared, incompetent and leaderless.”

U.S. judge extends eviction relief for Puerto Rico storm evacuees

  U.S. judge extends eviction relief for Puerto Rico storm evacuees <p>A federal judge on Tuesday extended an order preventing the eviction of hundreds of Puerto Rican families who fled the hurricane-ravaged island in 2017 and have been living in hotels and motels across the United States.</p>A federal judge on Tuesday extended an order preventing the eviction of hundreds of Puerto Rican families who fled the hurricane-ravaged island in 2017 and have been living in hotels and motels across the United States.

As the start of Puerto Rico 's hurricane season nears, a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ) official warns the territory Officials said FEMA will have a presence in Puerto Rico for several years to help it rebuild. The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report

The federal government significantly underestimated the potential damage to Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and relied too heavily on local Michael Coen, an appointee of President Barack Obama who was chief of staff at FEMA when the report was written, said the drafters should have

When Mr. Trump visited the island after the storm, he drew criticism for seeming to take the island’s troubles less than seriously, at one point tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd gathered in an upper middle-class neighborhood.

Mr. Gutiérrez said Mr. Trump’s early comments in Puerto Rico about the cost, and his complaint on Twitter that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them,” set a tone that led to a middling response by his administration.

Mr. Trump was firing back at the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who had called the logistics failures in the federal response to the crisis “something close to a genocide.”

Ms. Cruz said on Thursday that FEMA’s biggest problems were inside-the-box thinking and working under an administration that wanted to trumpet a success story.

“They thought that anything that has happened before will work in Puerto Rico,” she said of FEMA in a telephone interview, adding that the island suffered “a humanitarian crisis that was made even worse by a government that was more preoccupied with the political discourse than with helping people.”

Although the official death toll in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria is 64, death records show that more than 1,000 additional people died on the island in the weeks after the storm, compared with the same period in earlier years.

A week after Maria made landfall, FEMA still did not know whether half the island’s hospitals were open, the report says. Officials sent out on reconnaissance missions by helicopter could not share the information they collected because communications had collapsed. The satellite phones that FEMA had sent to the island were not meant to work in the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Beryl weakened but is still pushing toward Puerto Rico

  Tropical Storm Beryl weakened but is still pushing toward Puerto Rico Tropical Storm Beryl, the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2018 season, is expected to further weaken as it approaches the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico in the next couple of days. As of Sunday at 8 a.m., Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 20 mph toward the Lesser Antilles. The storm's poorly defined center -- or what by then might be its remnants -- is expected to approach the Lesser Antilles Sunday, cross the island chain Sunday night and move near or south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico said on Monday that the island was on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis” nearly a week after Hurricane Maria knocked out its power and most of its water, and left residents waiting in excruciating lines for fuel.

Nearly a month after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico , conditions remain dire: hundreds of thousands of Americans are still without running water. Military, first responders, Fema , did we do a great job?” Trump asked. “You responded immediately, sir,” Rosselló said .

Craig Fugate, who led FEMA during the Obama administration, said that when he visited the agency’s Puerto Rico warehouse during his tenure, he was surprised at the small quantity of supplies on hand.

“‘There are empty shelves here,’” Mr. Fugate said he remembered thinking. “We leased the building and were only using some of it. ‘Why are we not stocking more stuff?’ They said: ‘This is based on what we have historically used here.’”

Michael D. Brown, who was the FEMA administrator in 2005 when the agency’s response to Hurricane Katrina was widely criticized, said Congress had historically been unwilling to pay to stock warehouses for the possibility of extreme events, particularly with supplies that have a limited shelf life and could wind up going to waste. But as the report notes, extreme events are becoming more frequent.

“Every Congress, every president, remembers Katrina, so now they do everything to over-respond, so they can’t be criticized for any sort of lack of response,” Mr. Brown said.

The FEMA report says that the agency did not have nearly enough generators to meet Puerto Rico’s urgent needs after Maria, leaving several midlevel medical clinics without emergency power. Puerto Rico requested 1,400 generators; FEMA had about half that many in stock.

FEMA did provide huge generators to power water-pumping stations on the island, and has been spending $20 million a month on generators for two electric power plants.

In all, the report says, the agency has provided one million nights’ lodging in hotels and 130 million meals after the 2017 storms, a level of aid it considers “unprecedented.” The agency spent nearly $4 billion on aid and recovery efforts related to Puerto Rico.

But many in Puerto Rico fault the agency’s efforts.

“I don’t think anything provided by FEMA was a ‘meal,’” said Carlos J. Torres, 46, a resident of Guayanilla in the southern part of the island, referring to the military rations and boxes of candies and snacks that the agency often distributed. “You cannot call that food,” he said.

Former Hurricane Beryl could skirt Fla.; Tropical Storm Chris grows stronger

  Former Hurricane Beryl could skirt Fla.; Tropical Storm Chris grows stronger FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Beryl the one-time hurricane may not be done yet. As of Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center gave Beryl a 50 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone over the next five days. It was expected to turn northward over the Bahamas and western Atlantic Ocean, with the western edge of the cone about 100 miles off Florida's east coast. Beryl had been the As of Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center gave Beryl a 50 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone over the next five days. It was expected to turn northward over the Bahamas and western Atlantic Ocean, with the western edge of the cone about 100 miles off Florida's east coast.

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico with a one-two punch of high winds and driving rain before beginning its deliberate march toward the Dominican Republic. “There have been reports — multiple reports — of coastal flooding along the south, north and east of Puerto Rico ,” he said .

Mr. Torres said he received a $500 emergency grant from FEMA, but has not been able to return to his apartment because the building was badly damaged and the landlord, his father, did not qualify for disaster assistance.

His father was referred to the Small Business Administration to take out a low-interest loan for repairs, but “what I am expecting to see is a lot of people losing their property,” Mr. Torres said. “They are not going to be able to pay that off.”

Thousands of Puerto Ricans left homeless by the storm took refuge on the mainland with FEMA’s help, but have still not been able to return home.

Bethzaida Crespo, 36, moved her family to a hotel room in Orlando when her home in Dorado flooded. She received $3,000 for her losses and FEMA has paid for the hotel room. But that assistance is set to run out on July 23, and like many evacuees, she is looking to the agency for help finding a longer-term solution.

“We’re about to end up on the street,” Ms. Crespo said. “Nobody is happy with what is going on here. At the end of the day, there’s no winning. We are always losing.”

The office of the governor of Puerto Rico referred questions about the report and FEMA’s response to the island’s public safety secretary, Héctor Pesquera. Mr. Pesquera’s office said he had not yet seen the report and could not comment on it.

Puerto Rico has continued to struggle both to recover from the 2017 storms and prepare for the 2018 season. Nearly 10 months after Hurricane Maria, about 1,000 households on the island are still without power, and the management of the island’s government-owned electric utility, Prepa, is in turmoil. Its chief executive resigned on Wednesday after just four months in the post; by Thursday, his replacement, along with six members of the board, had also quit.

The Puerto Rican government has still not finished its own after-action report, a spokeswoman said.

Former Hurricane Beryl could skirt Fla.; Tropical Storm Chris grows stronger .
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Beryl the one-time hurricane may not be done yet. As of Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center gave Beryl a 50 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone over the next five days. It was expected to turn northward over the Bahamas and western Atlantic Ocean, with the western edge of the cone about 100 miles off Florida's east coast. Beryl had been the As of Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center gave Beryl a 50 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone over the next five days. It was expected to turn northward over the Bahamas and western Atlantic Ocean, with the western edge of the cone about 100 miles off Florida's east coast.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!