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Is Puerto Rico ready for Hurricane Season?

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Puerto Rico, Science and Environment | 1 comment

With Hurricane season already begun, inhabitants of the islands of Puerto Rico are well aware of the ritual that takes place from the beginning of June until late October, only to ease the tension in November. Major forecasters have already made their predictions for this year’s seasons, with an average of 14 storms and seven hurricanes, with only three of those being able to reach a Category 3 or higher. Although it may seem like a fairly normal 2023 hurricane season, officials warn that this year will be a bit more difficult for islanders to handle. With most of the islands’ shelters unprepared, coastline erosion, and the electrical systems just barely hanging on, it is the perfect recipe for the islands’ downfall. 

On Wednesday, July 12, 2023, Puerto Rico Mayor Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz (PDP, D) concluded that 85% of the shelters on the islands were not prepared for the hurricane season, citing that they do not have functional generators or solar power panels in operation; if provided with a generator, it only functioned for the shelter’s second level, preventing the elderly from receiving power. Hernández Ortiz voiced his concerns at the Hurricane Season Summit, where other members and mayors from other neighboring towns, “Every year it is the same story, the same situation,” he [Ortiz] said. “In my people’s case, I insist that the shelters are not prepared. Already, ten years later, they are still just as unprepared.”

With years of constant low maintenance and poor management of funds, Puerto Rico’s electrical system has been at the forefront of concern; frequent blackouts and power outages leave residents to wonder if the system will hold out during Hurricane season, with both Hurricane Maria [2017] and Hurricane Fiona [2022] leaving destruction in their wake. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm led the federal government’s efforts to rebuild and modernize the grid, appointed by President Biden (D), in order to maximize the use of solar power systems. While also making the grid resilient and hoping to have a quicker response to the cause of the sudden blackout by the Hurricanes, “striving [for] that people will not be without power for months.”As if staggering powerlines, and ill-prepared shelters, eroding coastline threatens the safety of the island’s residents, with Puerto Rico declaring a state emergency in order to combat the erosion on April 11, 2023, with most of the blame being placed on climate change, with some assistance from the multiple storms, including Hurricane Maria. The erosion consumes over 40% of Puerto Rico’s beaches, which leaves more than 20% living in areas at extremely high risk for flooding, leaving many more residents vulnerable. The islands’ Department of Natural Resources was forced to create and update its coastal zone management plan. With the islands taking precautions and attempting to stay on top of the already challenging obstacles, it’s an open question if the islands will be able to coast their way safely through Hurricane Season. 



Isamar Romero Borjas

Isamar Romero Borjas

Isamar Romero Borjas is a junior at Montclair State University, majoring in English/Literature with a concentration in creative writing. She was raised in a single-mother household along with her four other siblings and comes from a long line of immigrants who immigrated here from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and is a first-generation student. This led to her interest and passion in learning more about the Latino upbringings and struggles that many in the past have faced, and even more so now in the future, where she hopes to bring light onto those issues in order to bring change to those whose voices have been silenced. She is a former Puerto Rico Affairs Intern Editor.

1 Comment

  1. Wendy

    Amazing and very informative report! Congratulations to the Author.


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