Thursday, January 23, 2020

New York, California Assist Puerto Rico in Response to Earthquakes

By on January 14, 2020

SAN JUAN — On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo authorized the deployment of 115 National Guard personnel to Puerto Rico during the next 90 days to assist in emergency response efforts following a series of earthquakes that impacted the island.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that New York City will deploy 24 additional city personnel to San Juan and affected municipalities including Guayanilla, Ponce, Peñuelas and Guánica in coordinating response operations. The city’s response team consists of 16 building inspectors and engineers, nine emergency managers and two mental health professionals.

Following a request for assistance from the Puerto Rican government, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday the deployment of 31 disaster specialists to assist the island to rebuild and recover.

series of earthquakes over the past week have severely damaged infrastructure along Puerto Rico’s southwest coast and left more than 2,000 people in shelters.

The California team of disaster specialists, which deployed for 16 days, consists of experts in incident and emergency management, engineering and safety assessment, planning, public information, debris management and crisis counseling.

“Our nation-sized state knows first-hand the devastating toll of natural disasters and we will provide aid and support as our brothers and sisters rebuild and recover,” Newsom said in a release.

“The destruction by these earthquakes is clearly severe and widespread,” added Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “Here in California, we have some of the most talented and experienced emergency management staff in the world. We are ready to provide their valuable skill sets to our partners in Puerto Rico.”

Earlier last week, Newsom approved the deployment of four California Urban Search & Rescue team members from Sacramento City Fire and the Orange County Fire Authority.

Cuomo departed for Puerto Rico with a delegation that includes NYPA President & CEO Gil Quiniones, Greater NY Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr, Terry Bischoff from Foundation for a Better Puerto Rico, members of the Red Cross, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and Budget Director Robert Mujica.

The governor will lead a delegation to survey and assess damage in Guánica, Ponce and at the Costa Sur Powerplant to “determine additional state assets to be deployed,” according to his office.

Cuomo is bringing 800 blankets, 800 pillows and 500 emergency preparedness kits.

The New York City personnel, meanwhile, are experienced in areas including structural stability inspections, logistics, planning, operations and mental health support. The city’s team was requested through City-to-City mutual aid agreements that facilitate disaster assistance. During the deployment, the team will work with the cities of San Juan, Guayanilla, Ponce, Peñuelas and Guánica to coordinate resources to assist with structural damage assessments and assess further need for mental health and counseling services.

This the second team to deploy to Puerto Rico in response to the earthquakes. A team of four personnel, one from NYPD, two from NYC Emergency Management, and one from the Department of Buildings, deployed Jan. 9 to work to conduct assessments and identify additional resources.

“Since their deployment, the team has conducted structural assessments, assisted with commodity distribution, and initiated additional forward-leaning logistics planning for needs in the affected communities,” a New York City’s official site reads.

“Unlike the Trump Administration, New York City will always be there to support our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico,” de Blasio said. “The pain experienced by our neighbors due to these disasters is weighing on the hearts and minds of all of us. Our expert team is dedicated to helping the island recover from the devastating effects of these earthquakes as quickly as possible.”

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