Governor Wanda Vazquez offers Message to Puerto Rico

Gov. Wanda Vazquez has signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to the expected arrival of Dorian, which has sustained winds of 50 mph and is expected to pass through the Southwestern region of the island Wednesday morning. The storm is at 14.0 north and 61.2 west, moving towards northwest at 13 mph, according to the most recent projections given by the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The order was passed in order for agency officials to prepare for a possible emergency. A second order was passed freezing all prices on first necessity goods as well as well as the profit margins on fuel.

In a press conference the Governor informed the citizenry on the significant changes emergency response agencies have realized in order to be better prepared for a natural catastrophe. The Governor announced that local agency chiefs and federal agencies, like FEMA, have worked to together to participate in a cohesive operational plan for the possible emergency response.

The leader also listed all the important changes that were introduced in the agencies, starting with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which has more than 23,000 posts, more than 120,000 luminaries, and more than 7,400 transformers to combat Dorian. Before Hurricane Maria’s passing, PREPA did not have said materials and only had an inventory of $22 million, now, it has $141 million. PREPA also has agreements with 33 U.S immediate response companies with personnel and equipment and a Master Service Agreement with 50 local immediate response companies.

Something that PREPA didn’t have previous to Hurricane Maria was three mega portable generators with a capacity of 80 mega watts installed in Palo Seco and three emergency generators in Culebra, generating six mega watts. There are also now 65 satellite phones and agreements with KP4 for radio communication.

Right now the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA), has 80 water haulage trucks and 1,000 emergency generators, which 87 of these will be used for necessity and the other 17 will be used for more critical installations. A P25 communication red was installed in the Carraízo, La Plata, Toa Vaca reservoirs as well as the main headquarters and in eight municipalities.

The Puerto Rico State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management, (AEMEAD), has installed 100-watt radios in municipalities, the Police, and Firefighter entities, as well as a HF (High Frequency) with the National Guard and satellite telephones in zones and AEMEAD’s central office, what will allow for a more cohesive communication connection between the private and federal government compared to two years ago.

Now, all COE (Center for Government Emergency Operations) operatives will be linked in coordination with FEMA, what was previously not done for María. Also, in regards to community emergency response, a “Community Hub” was established between faith organizations and the government to deliver emergency supplies after a natural disaster.

In terms of telecommunications, Puerto Rico is in much better shape to face a natural disaster, given the installation of 1,000 additional miles of optic fiber underground, as well as an agreement to energize priority places where communication is vital.

Hospitals are prepared with generators with diesel and tanks and a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) was installed for Loiza, Isabela, Humacao, and Adjuntas.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has 360 refuges, 232 of these are primary, 103 are alternate and 25 are temporary, with a general capacity of 48,500 people.

The Puerto Rico Department of Family Affairs (DF) has more than seven million pounds of food that can be approved by Food Nutrition Services and 27,000 pounds of food for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a pilot program that serves senior citizens and low income families. After Maria, this department received federal funds for a new float of vehicles for this distribution.

The Negociado del Cuerpo de Emergencias Medicas, or the medical emergency entity, installed three electric generators in regional dispatches and all communication antennas were replaced, which will allow for better signal and reception. All operational emergency plans were updated and changed and worked on with the Department of Health and the Hospital Coalition for more cohesiveness in the emergency response process, including detailed specifics of how to handle patients in the middle of a natural catastrophe.

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