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NEWS | Sept. 11, 2018

P.R. Guard ready as Hurricane Isaac tracks around island

By Maj. Paul Dahlen Puerto Rico National Guard

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Current projections indicate that Puerto Rico may be spared a direct hit from Hurricane Isaac, officials said Monday.

"The Puerto Rico National Guard remains vigilant as Hurricane Isaac continues its westerly path, and we have taken all the necessary precautions in accordance with our contingency plans," said the adjutant general of Puerto Rico, Brig. Gen. Isabelo Rivera.

The lessons learned after Hurricanes Irma and Maria allowed the PRNG to reevaluate its emergency and mitigation plans through exercises with state and federal emergency management agencies and other states such as New York and Florida.

This emergency plan, which is an essential part of Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s contingency plan, is ready to be executed in the eventuality of severe weather such as this hurricane.

"We hope that Isaac, as well as those other weather fronts that follow it, does not affect us directly as a hurricane but keeps its current trajectory south of Puerto Rico, as reported by the National Hurricane Center. We are ready to respond to any situation; not only Isaac, but to any storm or emergency. We must also understand that although the weather will be unstable across the island, we want assure our people that the PRNG is vigilant and ready to assist at any moment," Rivera said.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, more than 5,600 Guard members from Puerto Rico and 33 other states were mobilized to support and assist the communities by conducting search and rescue missions, providing security, opening roads, purifying water, distributing water and food, providing medical services and managing 12 distribution centers that served in direct support to the 78 Island municipalities. Additionally, medical personnel assisted more than 5,200 patients in need of medical care or evacuation due to the degraded medical facility conditions on the Island.

"We have sent out a warning order to our engineer, military police, transportation, water purification and aviation units, as well as the Airmen at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina (Puerto Rico). Special equipment has been prepositioned in assigned areas throughout the Island and the PRNG Joint Operations Center is following the trajectory of Isaac while monitoring the other weather fronts," said Rivera. "We advise the people of Puerto Rico to review each family emergency plan and to not wait until the last minute, it is never too early to be prepared."

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, engineer units of the PRNG cleared 189 miles of roads and highways by collecting and disposing of 5,000 tons of downed trees and over 1,200 tons of debris. Water purification units processed and distributed over 9.7 million gallons of water; and more than 90 million bottles of water and 26 million meals were distributed by air and land by personnel of the PRNG.