FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico – After more than a month of support to the southern municipalities affected by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake Jan. 7, the Puerto Rico National Guard is restructuring its recovery efforts to improve the administration of services to displaced families.
"Our priority through the Joint Task Force has been and will always be the safety and well-being of displaced families," said Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, adjutant general of Puerto Rico. "We are restructuring our support in order to not duplicate efforts and consolidate services in line with the plan established by the government, together with the Joint Task Force."
The PRNG has 707 Soldiers and Airmen working in the different security support missions, logistical support and medical services, among others, in the five base camps administered by the Puerto Rico Department of Housing. Additionally, 111 Army Reserve Soldiers have provided shower and laundry services at the base camps. However, these services will be transferred to private operators so that the services continue without interruption.
"We are working to maximize the available services. With the aid now available from FEMA, it gives the opportunity to expedite the process so that displaced citizens can move to a safe home more quickly," said Brig. Gen. Miguel Méndez, dual status commander.
Mendez reiterated the commitment of the PRNG.
"Our motivation is not how much time it takes; it is the need that our citizens have," he said. "While Puerto Rico needs us, the Puerto Rico National Guard will be 'Always Present.'"
In addition to these services, Joint Task Force - Puerto Rico has supported the expert work of over 80 structural engineers who have arrived to the island from various U.S. cities to evaluate residences in 11 municipalities affected by seismic activity. These evaluations are 90 percent complete.
So far, Joint Task Force - Puerto Rico has distributed 1,679,328 bottles of water and 190,000 gallons of drinking water and prepared and served 60,756 hot meals and distributed 100,080 military meals (MREs). Medical personnel have attended more than 5,400 patients.