Puerto Rico’s Unfinished Business After Hurricane María

It has been a little over a year since Hurricane María fractured Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and its demographic and economic landscape. Currently, all the critical infrastructure—electricity, water, telecommunications, schools, and hospitals—is functional.

Transforming the Recovery into Locally-led Growth: Federal Contracting in the Post-Disaster Period

In the wake of the devastation resulting from hurricane María, the United States Federal Government mobilized numerous emergency relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Traditionally, Federal disaster response has been thought of as the “silver lining” that stems from a catastrophic event, given the millions of US Government dollars that are pumped into the local economy.

De resilencia a resistencia

Los desastres naturales mayormente destruyen, pero también generan nuevos vocabularios que incluyen un revoltijo de acrónimos, y toda clase de conceptos técnicos que los sobrevivientes tenemos que aprender y asimilar rápidamente, como el término “resiliencia”.

Puerto Rico: Black Start 2019

El huracán María devastó el sistema de energía de Puerto Rico. Después de la tormenta, la isla esencialmente ha tenido que reactivar su sistema energético del equivalente de lo que en la industria se llama un “blackstart”, que es el término técnico que describe el proceso de reactivar el sistema de generación energética luego de un apagón total.

Servicios esenciales

Antes del paso de los huracanes Irma y María, tanto la creación de la Junta de Control Fiscal (“JCF”) como el proceso de restructuración de la deuda fueron objeto de un álgido debate público. Sin embargo, ese no fue el caso con la definición de servicios esenciales y al día de hoy ni el gobierno ni la JCF ha tomado una posición clara sobre cuáles son las prestaciones primarias que provee el gobierno. Ha sido necesario el azote de un huracán categoría 4 para traer este tema al centro del discurso público.

Proposals for Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding Puerto Rico

TREAT PUERTO RICO FAIRLY – Puerto Ricans are US citizens by birth. Therefore, Congress should treat Puerto Rico as a state for purposes of allocating disaster recovery and rebuilding funds. Funding provided through FEMA and the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program should be allocated to Puerto Rico on terms and conditions no less advantageous than those applicable to the fifty states, including funding for hazard mitigation to ensure we minimize harm from similar events in the future.

The Case for Comprehensive Disaster Relief

This hurricane season has been particularly bad with major storms hitting Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and several Gulf states. Total damages are estimated to exceed $200 billion. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) is doing the best job it can with the resources it has at its disposal, but it is clearly reaching the limits of its capabilities.