FEMA Admits to Being Understaffed, Uninformed and Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricanes

July 13, 2018

No tarps, no cots, and less than 200 blue roofs.

That is what the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s warehouse in Puerto Rico looked like as Hurricane Maria made landfall in Sept. 2017. The vital supplies had been siphoned off elsewhere when Hurricane Irma had slammed into the U.S. Virgin Islands, prompting need for assistance.

In its after-action report, FEMA’s leadership admits that it “could have better anticipated that the severity of hurricanes Irma and Maria would cause long-term, significant damage” to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FEMA pointed out that Puerto Rico’s government has not yet achieved a level of preparedness commensurate with much of the U.S. mainland.

In the first 72 hours after Maria’s landfall, FEMA had “little information” about the status of the island’s infrastructure. week after the storm, FEMA still lacked key information, including vital details like the status of more than half of the island’s water treatment facilities and nearly half of the island's hospitals.

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