Andrea was the first to capture our attention a few weeks ago. Then Dorian, Humberto, and Jerry came close to our region. Now, in addition to suffering the shock of an earthquake and its aftershocks, we are going through Karen´s impact, a tropical storm that has brought heavy rain in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lorenzo is coming.
The frequency of these phenomena confronts us with the imperative need to take action and fine-tune or reactivate plans with effective measures to protect lives and property. High probabilities of hurricanes or significant telluric movements in Puerto Rico are neither theories nor projections.
These days of intense cyclonic activity force the implementation of domestic, governmental, community and business preparations that are necessary to deal with natural phenomena.
We already know about different mechanisms to prevent severe damage to our properties, as well as measures to protect life during extreme weather events. The time has come to implement and to strengthen them in the face of future challenges.
On one hand, it is each citizen´s responsibility to know their family's needs and take measures to protect the lives of children and adults in each home.
Meanwhile, state, federal and municipal authorities have to demonstrate that they are effectively assuming the responsibility of protecting the population and public infrastructure. They must be prepared to respond in each stage of the emergency according to established plans, considering particular regional vulnerabilities and needs.
After Hurricane María, which left such an experience on the island, it is time for health authorities to guarantee operations in critical facilities such as hospitals, senior care centers, and dialysis centers, where they should always have fuel for emergency generators and other contingency equipment.
Road safety, without significant progress in their revitalization after the damage in 2017, remains vulnerable in case of flooding. It is up to technical teams to proceed with immediate mitigation measures and speed-up projects to rebuild or strengthen roads.
The problems in the power grid during this storm will help prove its resilience. The same will happen with telecommunications networks that, according to the companies, have undergone renovations to increase resilience.
The island is going through a moment that also proves the importance of a rapid response by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This includes the disbursement of relief and reconstruction funds for the damage caused by Hurricane María, as a key mechanism to eliminate deficiencies that result in major losses and expenses, if not addressed soon.
Inclement weather, intensified by global warming, makes it imperative for the insurance industry to adequately respond to its clients. This reasonable step will direct repairs to properties exposed to damage additional to that recorded since María's impact, jeopardizing the future of businesses and homes.
We should also remember that Puerto Rico is in a seismic activity area. A 6.0-magnitude earthquake shook Puerto Rico Monday night, that stresses the importance of being prepared in case of a more intense seismic activity. This experience requires a revised and rehearsed family plan to act strategically. Household emergency backpacks are indispensable, as well as strategic family, community, business, and government plans to ensure survival if an earthquake causes severe damage to Puerto Rico.
Faced with the challenges of natural phenomena, eradicating the island's vulnerabilities and ensuring maximum safety in each community is everyone's responsibility. It is time to take up the challenge.