Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by raptor » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:15 pm

Two different storms but I am not surprised by the pace in PR. In NOLA the public schools were closed until the following year, the power was not back to 100% for 6 months and I10 was not reopened for about 4 months.

It took about 5 years to heal and even 12 years later the scars remain.

Disasters of this magnitude do not heal fast.
Last edited by raptor on Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by JayceSlayn » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:32 am

FlashDaddy wrote:Months later and still no grid power in most of PR. This is a good article with several imbedded vids on how people are trying to cope. Top award to the use of the “zip line.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics ... 8aa51f8c65
Thanks for the link! A very good illustrative piece of life after the calamity.

A few of the things I took away:
People said they are living like their parents or grandparents were, in the same region. As anyone who has been without either water or electricity for even a little while can attest to (or even if you've only been camping): a lot of little things are harder, and just take a lot longer without these conveniences. Cleaning and cooking food, hygiene/bathing, etc. are all hour-plus activities, compared to what might have taken 15 minutes before. It isn't to say that living like your grandparents is impossible - they did it - but it takes some grit we aren't all as accustomed to. And also remembering that people did not live as comfortably or as long in even the very recent past. If you are already incapable of walking a half-mile and back with a bucket for water, or have any kind of limiting health condition, things are going to be harder for you still.

Community helps. Nobody can make it by themselves for very long, or at least expect to have anything but a subsistence lifestyle. We figured that out thousands of years ago, when humanity first came together in societies, and it is not any less true today. Despite all the depressing things we hear about in the world, in the vast majority of cases, people have shown that we can come together to support our neighbors, even if only meagerly. While being self-reliant and personally prepared is a great goal, when all our best laid-plans are undermined, expecting to give generously to others, and receive generously in kind, is also something that we should be thankful for.

Emotional resilience is above nearly everything else as a survival skill. Humans can endure great suffering and survive, but the willpower to move through and move on is a key to making it. Children are naturally ingenious, and as adults we sometimes forget that quality within ourselves, but in times of need, it will be necessary to us again.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by woodsghost » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:55 am

Dead on JayceSlayn. Right with you on all that. Great points.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by MPMalloy » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:39 am

From NPR: FEMA To End Food And Water Aid For Puerto Rico
January 29, 2018 4:05 PM ET By Adrian Florido

In the days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, residents of some of the hardest hit rural areas found themselves stranded — cut off from more populated areas by mudslides, crumbled roads and bridges, and toppled trees and power lines. In those early days, the only food and water many of these communities received arrived by helicopter, sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Eventually, towns and villages dug themselves out, but lacking electricity and in many cases running water, their need for emergency food and water persisted. So FEMA has continued providing it, dispensing enormous quantities to the island's 78 mayors, whose staffs have in turn set up local distributions or gone door to door to deliver the aid.

On Wednesday, however, that aid will come to an end.

In a sign that FEMA believes the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided, on Jan. 31 it will, in its own words, "officially shut off" the mission it says has provided more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals across the island in the four months since the hurricane. The agency will turn its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing.

Some on the island believe it's too soon to end these deliveries given that a third of residents still lack electricity and, in some places, running water, but FEMA says its internal analytics suggest only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water. The agency believes that is a small enough number for the Puerto Rican government and nonprofit groups to handle.

"The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal," said Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's director in Puerto Rico.

The decision to end the delivery of aid is part of the agency's broader plan to transition away from the emergency response phase of its work on the island. In the weeks and months to come, the focus will be longer-term recovery. De La Campa said that includes finding ways to jumpstart the island's troubled economy.

"If we're giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy," De La Campa said. "It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico. So we need to create a balance. With the financial assistance we're providing to families and the municipalities, they're able to go back to the normal economy."

To date, FEMA has approved more than $500 million in Maria-related public assistance, though it's unclear how much of that is slated for local government and nonprofit groups versus direct aid for individuals. The agency has also disbursed an additional $3.2 million in unemployment aid to people whose jobs were affected by the storm.

'Ours is not so lucky'

But some say Puerto Ricans are not all ready to resume with their normal, pre-hurricane lives.

In Morovis, a municipality located in the island's lush, mountainous interior, Mayor Carmen Maldonado said that about 10,000 of her 30,000 residents are still receiving FEMA's food and water rations.

"There are some municipalities that may not need the help anymore, because they've got nearly 100 percent of their energy and water back," she said. "Ours is not so lucky."

While the government reports that island-wide, nearly a third of Puerto Rican customers still lack electricity, Maldonado estimated that in her municipality that figure is more like 80 percent.

She said that has forced families to shift their spending priorities in ways that have made FEMA's food and water aid a critical lifeline and the expectation that her residents simply resume their normal shopping routines impracticable.

"In municipalities like this one, where families are going out to work just to buy gas to run a generator, it becomes very hard," she said, "because money they would use to buy food they're instead using to buy fuel."

The median household income in Morovis is less than $18,000 and 51 percent of its residents live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

So not even everyone can afford a generator, Maldonado said, given the hundreds of dollars it costs to buy one and the $25 to $40 worth of fuel a small one can consume in a single day. Families that can't afford them face a more basic problem: they can't plug in a refrigerator, meaning almost daily trips to the grocery store to avoid spoiled food, an unrealistic expectation in this municipality where some of the narrow, winding mountain roads still bear hurricane damage, requiring some residents to take detours of an hour or more.

"This is all something that FEMA should contemplate before eliminating its delivery of these supplies," the mayor said.

Maldonado said she was also disheartened by the federal agency's plan to transfer its remaining food and water supplies and responsibility for distributing them to its Puerto Rican counterpart, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, or PREMA.

To date, Maldonado said, she has not gotten any information from PREMA on how to continue receiving food and water rations for her town after the agency assumes responsibility for distributing them on Jan. 31. The mayor said that she did not expect PREMA to distribute the goods fairly or effectively.

A spokeswoman for PREMA, Beatriz Diaz, acknowledged receiving NPR's emailed questions regarding the agency's plan for distributing the food and water supplies, but did not provide answers to those questions despite multiple requests over more than a week.

In an email, FEMA spokeswoman Delyris Aquino-Santiago said the federal agency had "provided guidance to PREMA and developed a contingency plan to support any unmet needs." But she also said that FEMA could not control how the local agency distributes those goods once FEMA turns them over on Jan. 31.

In addition to the supplies it is giving to the Puerto Rican government, FEMA will also be providing food and water supplies to several nonprofits, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, Aquino-Santiago said.

In the town of Morovis, teams of municipal workers still fan out to its hardest-to-reach communities to deliver the packages of food and cases of bottled water that they've been getting from FEMA every couple of days.

On a recent day, one of these teams visited a high-up mountain community called Barrio Pasto. Getting there used to mean crossing a river by bridge. But the hurricane destroyed the bridge, so crossing now means driving carefully over a partially submerged slap of concrete that is safe only when it isn't raining.

Among the recipients of a case of water and a package containing crackers and canned food on this day was Carmen Maria Quiñones Figueroa, a widow whose voice betrays her ever-mounting frustration over entering her fifth month without electricity. Nonetheless, she said her greatest trouble was not having running water.

"I haven't had enough water," she said, adding that the collapsed bridge made getting to town to buy it difficult. Instead, she relies on what her children bring when they visit and the cases that have come from FEMA.

Mayor Maldonado said that she'll continue distributing the aid to her residents as long as she keeps receiving it. And when she stops receiving it, she said she'll have to find another way.

"That's been our policy since day one," she said, "Not to leave anyone without food or water."
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by MPMalloy » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:19 pm

From NPR: Leadership Of Puerto Rico's Electric Utility Crumbles Amid Power Struggle
July 12, 2018 6:07 PM ET By Adrian Florido

The leadership of Puerto Rico's troubled electric utility — PREPA — crumbled on Thursday, as a majority of its board of directors, including its newly named CEO, resigned rather than submit to demands by the island's governor that the new CEO's salary be reduced.

The board had named PREPA board member and former General Electric executive Rafael Díaz Granados as its new CEO just a day earlier, at an annual salary of $750,000. His appointment followed the abrupt resignation of Walter Higgins, who had served as CEO for less than four months and announced his departure Wednesday amid a cloud of controversy over his own $450,000 salary.

But news of Díaz Granados' even larger salary sparked an outcry among politicians, including Puerto Rico's governor, who was traveling to Russia to watch the World Cup final.

On Thursday morning, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló demanded the resignation of any member of PREPA's board unwilling to cut Díaz Granados' salary, which Rosselló called "not proportional to the financial condition of PREPA, to the fiscal situation of the government, or to the feeling of the people who are making sacrifices to raise Puerto Rico."

A short time later, five board members, including the newly named CEO, resigned, leaving the utility's governing body without a quorum and without a chief executive to replace the outgoing CEO once he departs at the end of the week. In a joint letter to the governor, the resigning board members decried what they called "the petty political interests of politicians" who they said were determined to retain control of the utility and who they accused of putting "at risk" the process of "transforming the Puerto Rican electricity sector."

It was a dizzying 24 hours at the already troubled utility, which is bankrupt and $9 billion in debt, has churned through a succession of leaders in the 10 months since Hurricane Maria destroyed the electric grid last fall, and is still struggling to restore power to all of the customers who lost it after the storm.

Díaz Granados would have become the fourth CEO since the hurricane, and would have been tasked with overseeing the public utility's privatization, which the governor signed into law last month. In an interview with the island's largest newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, after his appointment was announced, Díaz Granados defended his salary, saying it was in line with what a utility of PREPA's size and scope would pay a chief executive, and in fact was much less that what he could earn elsewhere.

Granados had said one of his goals was to help PREPA retake control of its own future, rather than continue to be "a spectator" as outside entities like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dictated the island's energy future.

But following his and the other board members' sudden resignation, the government's attention on Thursday turned to simply restoring a quorum to the crippled board so that it could continue to run the utility.

The governor said he would act quickly to name replacements, and officials said they expected the new board would appoint another CEO by the end of the week.
Not a good sign, but what, will most likely be, the net effect?
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by Stercutus » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:28 am

I imagine the State will have to appoint a new board and put the company into receivership. I guess it is just as well that the rats are leaving the sinking ship. Hopefully someone will step up. If not, more paralysis.

Our church is sending a group of missionaries down there to fix roofs in a small village that has yet to see much by way of relief efforts. In fact they should arrive today for a three week stay. Arranging for materials and transport has been difficult as you can imagine.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by majorhavoc » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:08 am

Post action report: FEMA Was Sorely Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricane, Report Says
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/us/f ... v=top-news
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.

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.
In FEMA's defense, it's politically and budgetarily (is that a word?) problematic to be prepared to respond to three major storms hitting the territorial U.S. in rapid succession. But it also serves as yet another graphic example of how governmental resources can and sometimes do become quickly overwhelmed in a major event. And how counting on those governmental resources to be there for you and yours is not an effective or responsible prepping strategy.

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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by KJ4VOV » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:36 am

It somewhat surprises me that Elon Musk and Tesla are not all over this. There's a lot of opportunities here for his company to show off what their solar power systems are capable of. Were I him I think I'd start by offering free solar power system installations for certain government facilities, such as police and fire stations, in rural areas hardest hit by this, and use those as a test bed to improve the systems. At the same time, or maybe a little after, start offering home installations at a significant discount to homeowners in the hardest hit regions (with very favorable credit terms to make it affordable) with the goal being not to really make a profit but to use the entire island as a showcase for what they can do, which in turn would generate profits as people in other market areas saw the success of the systems and purchased them.

Then again, I'm not on his level when it comes to business sense, so there might be dozens of reasons why this would not be a good idea that I'm not seeing. :)
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by MPMalloy » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:48 am

KJ4VOV wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:36 am
It somewhat surprises me that Elon Musk and Tesla are not all over this. There's a lot of opportunities here for his company to show off what their solar power systems are capable of. Were I him I think I'd start by offering free solar power system installations for certain government facilities, such as police and fire stations, in rural areas hardest hit by this, and use those as a test bed to improve the systems. At the same time, or maybe a little after, start offering home installations at a significant discount to homeowners in the hardest hit regions (with very favorable credit terms to make it affordable) with the goal being not to really make a profit but to use the entire island as a showcase for what they can do, which in turn would generate profits as people in other market areas saw the success of the systems and purchased them.

Then again, I'm not on his level when it comes to business sense, so there might be dozens of reasons why this would not be a good idea that I'm not seeing. :)
Agreed. Solar isn't perfect but PR would be an excellent test bed for the technology. While it looks like (from the outside) that Elon has the money to do everything for free, I really have no idea how billionaires actually structure that kind of wealth.

It would be heart-warming, gracious, if somehow it all could be free.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by raptor » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:18 am

MPMalloy wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:48 am
Agreed. Solar isn't perfect but PR would be an excellent test bed for the technology. While it looks like (from the outside) that Elon has the money to do everything for free, I really have no idea how billionaires actually structure that kind of wealth.

It would be heart-warming, gracious, if somehow it all could be free.
The other things Elon did had a payday at the end of the day. It may not have generated much of a profit but it did repay the cost of the installation. In this case the utility is not only broken but it is broke...as are the local and commonwealth governments. I am not knocking Elton since he has done a lot of pro bono stuff, it is just that the end of the day, it is not really his problem and unless there is some way for him to be made whole.

BTW anyone going to PR for relief work, be aware that personal security for volunteers is a real issue. The local laws also greatly restrict items for personal security as well as the fact that anything brought has to be airline acceptable for checked baggage. That and bring whatever you may think you may need in the way of tools and materials. Which BTW is the other reason rebuilding is slow. It is kinda tough to bring plywood, sheet rock and roofing tiles in checked baggage though.

There are some people with a local church group in NOLA that went to PR for 2 weeks this past winter. This is the same group that went to Haiti. They said it was nothing as bad as Haiti in terms of security, but that the conditions and limitations on materials, supplies & tools were just as bad. There is a good local labor force which is qualified and available. So there are skilled subs available, just not the materials. Material theft everywhere in the main land US is a problem, but in PR a lot of material disappears from the dock before it even gets a chance to go to the job site.YMMV
Last edited by raptor on Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by KJ4VOV » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:54 am

I'm not suggesting that Elon Musk and Tesla do everything for free. My idea is that a few important government locations in some areas, such as police and fire stations, maybe a hospital, would get the installation donated for free. This generates tremendous public relations points for the company and gives them some excellent real-world testbeds to work with for future improvements to the technology. After that, when local interest in it grows, offer it slightly above cost to residents in the surrounding areas, and arrange financing for them that makes it affordable to them. That does not cost the company anything, in fact, they make a slight profit from it, and expands their testbed. This, in turn, garners interest in the company and technology from other places outside of Puerto Rico, places where better profits can be made. I'm not talking about him electrifying the whole island or rebuilding their entire infrastructure, but there is great potential here for him to do some real good for people who desperately need it and make significant profits down the road.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by MPMalloy » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:54 pm

Yeah, that last part wasn't very realistic of me.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by SCBrian » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:51 pm

I just came back from a week and a half in PR. Spent most of my time near Mayaguez and Ponce. So some random musings on the island.

One of the biggest issues on the island is corruption, it spans the private sector as well as the government. The mayor of the town I stayed in (Sabana Grande) was just busted for stealing 3 mil from the PR Department of Ed.

The main roads I drove on down there (PR1 & PR2) were absolute $hit. And these were toll roads. Many of the local roads were actually better maintained.

On the flight down I spoke to some missionaries that were going through the same issues raised up earlier in the thread about material theft, and tool availability.

As for restoring power, you have to remember this is essentially a mountain area and some of the challenges are getting power to the interior of the island up the sides of the mountain.

I've seen Solar companies up and running in PR already, but don't know if they run the same scam as in the US.

A number of unions down there, though there is a push to become right to hire/fire...

FWIW - I repaired my wife's grandfathers porch roof that had been damaged by a coconut tree, and materials seemed readily available at the local hardware store. Of course all I needed were some treated wood and screws, and a few other odds and ends. Cost was a bit higher than US, but not unreasonably so.

Didnt see to many panhandlers, but what I did see is a lot of people selling water/food at intersections and red lights...
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by KJ4VOV » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:23 pm

SCBrian wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:51 pm
I just came back from a week and a half in PR. Spent most of my time near Mayaguez and Ponce. So some random musings on the island.
My family has a house in that area, in Pastillo. Or maybe we don't anymore. I've not had contact with that side of the family since my dad passed away and I moved out of NYC. My dad bought it as a gift for my step-mother who was born there, so she had a place to live while visiting family and so that the rest of us had a vacation spot to stay at. He never got a chance to see it before he died, but I think he'd have liked it. If I know my step-brothers and nieces and nephews on that side of the family as well as I think I do, they're heavily involved in the reconstruction efforts. It was, after all, the family business.
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Re: Post Hurricanes Humanitarian Crisis in PR and the AVI

Post by drop bear » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:29 pm

MPMalloy wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:58 pm
This thread is a good read. Thank you everyone for contributing.

This thread has made me wonder about what I would do if the disaster took all my preps. I have me insurance & E-fund, but what to do in the mean time. Other than availing myself to non/barely existent Gov't/NGO aid.

Has this been covered in previously?
Get involved with disaster recovery. That way the government has an interest in keeping you functional.

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