Hurricane Maria was a deadly Category 5 hurricane that devastated the northeastern Caribbean in September 2017, particularly Dominica, Saint Croix, and Puerto Rico. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in recorded history to affect those islands
A new UNISDR study of the private sectors in Dominica and the British Virgin Islands finds that even though most businesses had disaster continuity plans, Maria and Irma revealed that they were unprepared for a level 5 hurricane. Businesses must recognize inconsistencies in information, resource access, education, and capacity building to enhance their resilience.
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean
United Parcel Services
UNDRR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE)
Amid strained resources and a delayed federal response, NGOs have been instrumental in providing basic services and filling a gap in recovery assistance, in addition to delivering much-needed expertise to fuel a more resilient and sustainable future for Puerto Rico. NGOs have assumed new roles, created partnerships, self-organized, and are now first responders.
A year after Maria, Puerto Rico is far from prepared for the next big storm, with an ever-fragile power grid, damaged infrastructure and the same crippling debt. The island has only seen a fraction of the $50 billion in recovery funds Congress approved, and most people who requested help from FEMA have not received sufficient assistance.
Lessons from Katrina tell us that, to recover from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican children will need well-funded public services and community support. Schools offer a daily routine, support systems, and therapeutic curriculum. At home, employed and educated parents are better able to navigate bureaucracy and access social networks.
One year after Maria, nearly every pillar of Puerto Rican society remains devastated and pre-existing problems are exacerbated. The island is still struggling with economic, health, electrical, educational, and governance challenges with no imminent solutions in sight.
Hurricane Maria's fatality count alone is inadequate for understanding the depth of the disaster still unfolding in Puerto Rico. Even if the fatality count had been 64, as the original death count indicated, a strong response would have been necessary to prevent people’s lives from being irreparably upended. Instead, the poor response only caused more fatalities.
Puerto Rico has raised the official death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975 people – a dramatic increase from the previous figure of 64 – almost a year after the storm struck the island. This is the first official change to the death toll following efforts by journalists, activists and academics to get the government to acknowledge the scale of devastation.
Following the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Maria, Save the Children is teaming up with Puerto Rico’s Department of Education and Rocky Mountain Institute of Boulder, Colorado to support 12 schools that were impacted during last year’s hurricane season. They will focus on helping the schools become more resilient and strengthening emotional learning.