FEMA and Puerto Rico

Contrary to President Trump’s assertions, the effort to rebuild Puerto Rico was/is hampered by incompetence on many levels but the deficiencies of the FEMA response have been recently highlighted. Even FEMA admits its own problems in its after-action report. This viewpoint is buttressed by a recent GAO report – 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires: Initial Observations on the Federal Response and Key Recovery Challenges. FEMA’s experience in Puerto Rico has informed its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan.

Of course, it must be remembered that FEMA is not a first-responder but is actually a coordinator or facilitator of responses to natural or manmade disasters. However, this in no way mitigates the under-performance of this vital agency in Puerto Rico. It can draw on many governmental offices and experts to help plan recoveries. FEMA “… coordinates programs to improve the effectiveness of emergency response providers at all levels of the government, initiates proactive mitigation activities….” (US Government Manual)

For those interested, here is the impartial George Washington University report that indicates that the mortality figure for Puerto Rico stands at nearly 3,000, not the dozens touted by the current administration.


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