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NEWS | May 27, 2020

PRNG works through disaster scenarios

By Puerto Rico National Guard

FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico – The Puerto Rico National Guard began a series of tabletop exercises, using lessons learned from recent disasters to better prepare for future emergencies across the island.

The process started in Canóvanas and is to cover the island's 78 towns through the summer.

"It is important to plan the reaction to the emergency, even if changes need to be applied on the march," said Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, adjutant general of Puerto Rico. "The quality of the initial response in an emergency will be consistent with the degree of preparedness. This process never ends."

In Canóvanas, the exercise was carried out at the Neftalí "Talito" Ortíz Activities Center in the Campo Rico neighborhood. It was based on three hypothetical elements: a Category 3-4 hurricane, a 6.6-magnitude earthquake with a tsunami, and a viral outbreak with epidemic possibilities.

Canóvanas Mayor Lornna Soto Villanueva recognized the validity of this exercise and its importance.

"We had the opportunity to discuss everything from the shelter situation to feeding and storing everything necessary to deal with any situation, including the measures we have to take now with the pandemic," she said.

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed through Puerto Rico in September 2017, the National Guard divided the island into four operational areas to maximize and facilitate resources, action and fulfillment of the support required in the different regions.

"The objectives we seek to cover are the identification of limitations, the need for equipment and personnel to better the response in the service to Puerto Rico," Reyes said. "We cannot wait for the situation to occur to react; we have to prepare.

"These exercises seek to reinforce the previously successful areas, recognize the weaknesses in the plans of the various municipalities, and improve the interagency lines of communication," said Reyes. "We seek to develop and apply executable plans to the particular needs of the municipalities. The important thing is to be prepared, develop good communication, and be able to execute."

The emergency response exercises will continue May 28 and 29 in Loiza and Cataño, respectively, and across the island until August 31.



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