Hurricane Maria in 2017 was ferocious enough to make a line in time: before Hurricane Maria and after Hurricane Maria. The macaques on Monkey Island became more cooperative and less aggressive. The lack of basic necessities created a humanitarian crisis, with many struggling to access food, water, and medical care. Crops were lost and natural features destroyed. The hurricane had a major impact on the mental and social well-being of Puerto Ricans, with increased rates of depression and anxiety.

The 2024 hurricane season is expected to be more active than usual. A shift from El Niño to La Niña is expected to take place in the coming months. The water around Puerto Rico is currently the hottest it has ever been at this time of year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects 17 to 25 total named storms, of which 4 to 7 may be major hurricanes in category 3, 4 or 5.

Are you prepared?

The amount of damage isn’t only determined by the size and speed of the storm. It’s primarily affected by the storm’s path. A major hurricane that makes landfall will do far more damage than one which stays off the coast. This makes it hard to predict the level of preparation needed.

However, there are some steps that individuals, households, and communities can take to prepare.

Make sure that you have access to emergency alerts and that you know the official evacuation routes for your community.

Have a disaster preparation kit ready with food, water, medications, first aid supplies, cash, and means of communication.

Get documents together. After Hurricane Maria, disaster services were delayed for many people just because they were missing paperwork.

You can’t realistically prepare for months without electricity or weeks without a safe water supply, but preparation for a need to shelter in place at work or home for a few days will make an immediate difference.

Is Puerto Rico prepared?

FEMA was criticized for laying nag blame on Puerto Rico for a lack of preparation. In fact, reports after the tragedy showed that FEMA was unprepared. With that experience, however, Puerto Rico could be better prepared this year. Is the Island ready?

Lourdes Aponte, President of Puerto Rico’s United Retail Center, told the News Journal that some small and medium-sized businesses in Puerto Rico have not yet recovered from Hurricane Maria. “We are not ready for another hurricane,” she said firmly.

The electrical system is still not stable. Reconstruction has not been completed. In fact, of the $72.1 billion FEMA lists as having been obligated for reconstruction in Puerto Rico, only $26.7 billion has actually reached the Island. The Government Accountability Office reported that red tape and communication problems hindered the disaster response. Some of the problems seen after Hurricane Maria are likely to arise again, even if all the government entities learn from their previous mistakes.



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