After Hurricane Maria

from RAND Research Topic: Health and Health Care at on September 30, 2020 at 03:48PM

To establish an evidence-based foundation for the congressionally required short- and long-term recovery and resilience plan for Puerto Rico following the 2017 hurricanes, the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center assessed the damage from the 2017 hurricane season and remaining needs across the commonwealth in collaboration with federal agencies, the government of Puerto Rico, and other stakeholders. The experts examined what happened during and after Hurricanes Irma and Maria but also how the effects of the hurricanes exacerbated and were exacerbated by predisaster challenges and stressors.

This report provides a comprehensive summary of the commonwealth’s challenges and status before and after the storms hit, including their effects on Puerto Rico’s people and communities; economy; built and natural environments; and education, health, and social services.

Before the hurricanes, Puerto Rico faced an economic crisis, a shrinking, aging population, substandard public education, poverty, poor housing stock, governance challenges, neglect of infrastructure and resources, and environmental degradation. Hurricane Maria’s direct and devastating landfall on Puerto Rico in September 2017 only exacerbated these challenges.

The research team identified short- and longer-term needs for Puerto Rico’s recovery and resilience. In the short term, Puerto Rico needs to repair damaged critical infrastructure; improve governance and fiscal accountability; update emergency-preparedness plans; clearly delineate responsibility for infrastructure, assets, and services; and repair damaged and destroyed homes. In the longer term, Puerto Rico will need to systematically address its economic challenges; scale its social services and infrastructure systems for current and future populations; reinforce its infrastructure against natural hazards and build it to modern standards; reduce building-permit and code-enforcement breaches; report timely and accurate data on its economic and fiscal status; and gather further knowledge to inform long-term resilience decisions.

This research was sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and conducted by the Strategy, Policy and Operations Program within Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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