FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico – The Puerto Rico National Guard is prepared for the start of the 2020 hurricane season and is urging residents to take precautions.
“The Puerto Rico National Guard, and its more than 8,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, is ready to fulfill the governor’s call in support to the security and emergency agencies in situations like this,” said Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, the adjutant general of Puerto Rico. “We have been reviewing and updating our contingency plans as well as the municipalities’ emergency plans. Each municipality is unique, and we have to grasp where its weaknesses are to improve the coordination between the municipalities, state, and federal agencies.”
Resources the PRNG can draw on in an emergency include engineers, carriers, military police, three water purification units and 10 helicopters. The PRNG has also established collaborative agreements with National Guards from 18 states that can send Guard members and equipment to the island should the need arise.
After the passage of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, PRNG engineers helped identify and evaluate damaged structures and helped clear and reopen 11,000 km of roads around the island. The PRNG also distributed more than 25 million food units and 85 million bottles of water. They also supported the safety of gas stations and other sectors that needed it. PRNG Engineers cleared more than 6,820 miles of roads. Water purification units established in Jayuya, Canóvanas, Quebradillas, Aguadilla and Comerío processing nearly 7 million gallons of water.
After Hurricane Maria, the Guard divided the island into four task areas to facilitate emergency response, Reyes said.
“We have prepositioned engineering and transportation equipment in already identified areas that can take action as soon as necessary,” Reyes said. “Even the new mission of the Air National Guard, which includes elements of engineering and communication, will provide us with additional support that will be favorable in facilitating and restoring services.”
The National Guard advises those living in flood zones to identify the closest shelters and go to them during a storm or hurricane.
“Now that the hurricane season begins, we should not wait until the last minute to make the corresponding preparations,” Reyes said. “Citizens must take due precautions from now on and work on the preparations to protect their homes and families.”
“People must be aware of the development of any atmospheric phenomenon that may impact us,” said Reyes. “They must heed the recommendations of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration and the National Weather Service.
“Still, above all, common sense must be applied during the emergency,” he said. “Furthermore, the Puerto Rico National Guard is alert and prepared to fulfill its responsibility to the island and its communities, letting us know that we are ‘Siempre Presente’ (Always There).”