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FEMA And Hurricane Maria

Hurrican MariaAs every Prepper (and US Citizen) should know, you can’t depend on the USA for disaster relief.   This unfortunate fact was reinforced when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on October 17, 2017.  Hurricane Maria was absolutely devastating,  as it resulted in nearly 5,000 deaths and took down Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.  What is telling is that these conclusions were found via an internal FEMA report.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to properly prepare for last year’s hurricane season and was unable to provide adequate support to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and other areas, an internal report released by the agency concluded. FEMA Report Acknowledges Failures In Puerto Rico Disaster Response : NPR

Below is a summary of this internal report’s findings:

FEMA Was Not Prepared

FEMA was understaffed going into hurricane season.  In fact most of the FEMA staff, on October 17, were deployed elsewhere.   Also, despite knowing that hurricane Maria was approaching the emergency warehouses in Puerto Rico were essentially non existent.

The report found Puerto Rico’s emergency-supply warehouses were nearly empty when Hurricane Maria hit in October, without things like cots or tarps, because many of the supplies had been rerouted to the U.S. Virgin Islands. FEMA Report Acknowledges Failures In Puerto Rico Disaster Response : NPR

FEMA’s Logistic And Communications Were A Failure

Some of the communication issues were not FEMA’s fault as nearly all of Puerto Rico’s cell towers (95%) were not operational after October 17.  Also, some of the problems were not entirely FEMA’s fault because other government agencies  and private charities failed to communicate.

As emergency supplies arrived, the report found, FEMA faced a major hurdle: it lacked visibility into what was being shipped by other government agencies or private sector partners, further hindering response decisions. FEMA Report Acknowledges Failures In Puerto Rico Disaster Response : NPR

However, FEMA failed to efficiently get emergency supplies to the disaster victims once they were shipped to Puerto Rico.

The report also found FEMA struggled to track supplies from the mainland to the island and through distribution, saying the agency experienced “business process shortfalls.” Frontline and NPR found serious flaws in many of the agency’s supply contracts. FEMA Report Acknowledges Failures In Puerto Rico Disaster Response : NPR

Planning Was Lacking

That lack of planning proved one of the agency’s biggest stumbling blocks to the response. The report found the last FEMA disaster planning assessment for Puerto Rico was from 2012 and “underestimated the actual requirements in 2017.” In particular, the plans “did not address insufficiently maintained infrastructure (e.g., the electrical grid)” or the “financial liquidity challenges” facing the bankrupt Puerto Rican government. FEMA Report Acknowledges Failures In Puerto Rico Disaster Response : NPR

Lessons To Learn From FEMA’s Response

Several lessons can be learned from the US Government/FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria. However, here are the two most important lessons that I learned via FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria.

  1.  You Can’t Rely On The Government:  From Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and countless other examples it has been proven that you can’t depend on the government to bail you out during a disaster.
  2. Disaster Preparedness Planning Is Essential:  The internal study found that FEMA failed to anticipate problems related to Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy., I.E., Their infrastructure was neglected severely. This lacking of planning emphasizes that you need to anticipate both known (no electricity during in case of an EMP attack) and less likely to occur damages brought about because of disaster.

What do you think?  Are my conclusions baseless?