Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency

Posted by: Pete

Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/22/17 03:52 PM

The situation in Puerto Rico now ... fits the true definition of a large-scale emergency. Many neighborhoods are flooded with deep water. Streets are blocked. For poor people, their simple houses have waist-deep water throughout the dwelling. The same goes for a lot of local markets. Under these conditions, people will run out of fresh drinking water very quickly. And they cannot use the normal bathroom system. So the hazard of water-borne illness will grow rapidly.

There needs to be a massive airlift to PR. Especially for basic things - water purification and blankets. But that task is not easy for a population over 3 million.

If folks here want to give some thought to "true survival" ... the situation in PR fits the definition.
Posted by: bws48

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/22/17 05:22 PM

I agree and fear that we have not really begun to understand the scope of what is needed. IMO, disease is the major threat. I am mindful that after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, there was a cholera outbreak that killed thousands and sickened thousands more.

The destruction of so much infrastructure on Puerto Rico, the lack of clean water, etc., seems to me to be a set up for a plague of water borne disease that will make Haiti's 2010 outbreak look like a minor incident. Major efforts appear necessary now, but don't seem to be gearing up.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/22/17 06:28 PM

If I am not mistaken, I believe several US Navy vessels set sail yesterday for Puerto Rico for relief assistance. Not sure of the details, just what I gleaned from a brief news bulletin yesterday.
Posted by: TeacherRO

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/22/17 06:41 PM

try to imagine a system which provides 6 million meals a day...
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/22/17 08:38 PM

news today that a large dam in PR has failed. this will spill a lot more flood water down canyons and through neighborhoods.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/22/17 09:44 PM

While I don't know the scale of the US military response in Puerto Rico, I did read that National Guard assets were on the ground within less than 24 hours after the hurricane hit.
Posted by: Ren

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/23/17 01:09 AM

The Mayor was saying they are expecting to be without electricity for four to six months.

Believe WHO have an emergency stock pile of cholera vaccine, as part of the lessons learnt from Haiti.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/23/17 04:57 AM

not a lot of news. the Natl Guard appears to be doing an excellent job - helping people to evacuate dangerous areas.

I don't know if the situation with cholera vaccines has changed. in the old days they were not very effective - at most some limited protection from cholera. but even some protection is better than none.

what Puerto Rico needs badly are the special teams with expertise in water purification. The Gov't of Austria has such a team. Other countries might have them too.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/24/17 08:46 PM

NEWS ... Puerto Rico set back by 20-30 years after Hurricane Maria. What a huge blow this is, coming on top of an ongoing economic crisis on the island.

-------------------------------------------------------

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress said Sunday that Hurricane Maria's destruction has set the island back decades, even as authorities worked to assess the extent of the damage.

"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years," said Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez. "I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone."

desperation in Puerto Rico ...

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/hot-iso...ocid=spartandhp

UPDATE MONDAY 25 SEP, 2017

Puerto Rico's hospitals in Critical Condition ...

http://www.reuters.com/video/2017/09/25/...oChannel=118169
Posted by: bws48

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 02:24 AM

I hope and pray that in solving the problems, that we recognize that there is an opportunity not to be wasted. By that I mean that we do not simply rebuild the old technology and infrastructure that has been destroyed, but look to technologies that can provide the same, or better, services that were there before, but also provide greater reliability/"robustness" to disruptions in the future. What are those technologies? I don't know, but one thing that is clear to me is that power generation needs to be more widely distributed, as opposed to our very centralized system that we have now. IMO, long transmission lines are a vulnerability that we should start to be eliminating our dependence on.
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 05:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Pete
what Puerto Rico needs badly are the special teams with expertise in water purification. The Gov't of Austria has such a team. Other countries might have them too.


The US doesn't have such a team??? I'm surprised to hear this. Pete, can you elaborate please?
Posted by: LesSnyder

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 01:16 PM

we have things called aircraft carriers that produce 100's of thousands of gallons of desal water daily, multiple operating rooms, self sustaining electrical power, their own landing strip, and helicopters to deliver relief supplies

we have people called Special Forces that routinely work with indigenous people in third world countries to improve their lives as well as regular troops that provide water systems to forward deployed forces in God forsaken regions of the world

we have church groups and NGOs like the TBM that help distribute individual filters (like the Sawyer .02 micron 5 gal system)
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 02:56 PM

Bingley

I could not tell you - exactly what the US Government has. Surely we must have the capability to do this. But who exactly in the military does this - and how - I am not sure. Using Navy ships might be one smart way to purify water. Especially for Puerto Rico.

I helped at a flooding disaster in Africa (Mozambique disaster, early 2000's). I saw a team in action there - from Austria. They are a military team, but organized more to provide humanitarian assistance. They are especially good at things like purifying water. They have ALL the gear ... big purifying units, hoses, tubes, all the connections. They go right into a polluted area, and start producing pure water for poor people. It's very impressive to watch. These folks would be a HUGE help to Puerto Rico right now.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 02:57 PM

Governor Of Puerto Rico Announces Major Humanitarian Crisis

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/puerto-rico%E2%80%99s-governor-warns-of-%E2%80%98humanitarian-crisis%E2%80%99/ar-AAssMWv?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartandhp
Posted by: Montanero

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 06:08 PM

The military will likely be employed like this:

They will go in and assess where the people are, how many and the magnitude of the need

They will set up or repair airfields, ports and helicopter landing zones in remote areas

They will set up camps with shelter, water, food and medical care

Engineer and medical units will provide the majority of the aid

Military Police may be used for security and population control

They will integrate with and assist local authorities, finding the local experts on the infrastructure and work to get it all working again

Distribution is key, and all of the population in need may not be very accessible, people will either go to the help or the help will come to them. Consolidation will be necessary in many cases for logistical reasons.

Immediate needs will be addressed first, then they will focus on a sustained effort, then on rebuilding the necessary infrastructure (water treatment, hospitals, power, food)
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 07:06 PM

The US Military is already heavily involved in disaster relief in Puerto Rico:

Navy, Marine Corps Providing Around-the-Clock Hurricane Maria Relief

Military conducting multiple operations to help Hurricane Maria-struck Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

The Marines, Navy, Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force are all involved. This includes active duty, reserve, and National Guard units.

EDIT: Note that the Marine Corps has a the capability to provide potable water, using either sea water or polluted sources. These systems are already being put to use: Joint Task Force - Leeward Islands distributes water to the people of Saint Martin
Posted by: Russ

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 07:58 PM

Listening to various reports on FoxNews -- per the reports: USS_Kearsarge (LHD-3) is on scene at Puerto Rico. This is an ideal ship for this situation -- it has an outstanding ability to move stuff from ship to shore, that's what it was designed to do in a war zone. Puerto Rico is a more benign environment. In keeping with it being a Naval combatant designed to support Marines in a war zone, USS Kearsarge has an extensive medical facility ...
Quote:
...Kearsarge ... medical facilities are second in capability only to the Navy's hospital ships, USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy...

Speaking of hospital ships, USNS Comfort may be en route, but before it arrives the port facilities will need to be restored.
Posted by: Teslinhiker

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/26/17 08:28 PM

Along with the military, there are NGO aide groups from the USA and Canada en-route to PR. And with some pride, I can say that my wife is once again volunteering and left early yesterday morning for a minimum 30 day deployment with a large NGO. They expect to be in PR by weeks end but that depends on the airlift and airport logistics situation which is chaos right now. It is worth noting that aide workers will have a full security briefing beforehand as the security situation in many areas of PR is not all that safe and is suspected to get worse in the coming days and weeks until food, water and shelter logistics, along with many other basics of life is established.

Also there is a call out from the American Red Cross for Ham Radio operators to assist with comms.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 01:07 AM

In the nearly 75-year association between the American Red Cross (ARC) and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), yesterday there was an event without precedent in its scale: ARC asked ARRL for fifty amateur radio operators available for immediate deployment to Puerto Rico for disaster relief communications, especially transmitting health and welfare information.

I'm proud to be a member of ARRL. In less than twelve hours 50 highly qualified hams (General or higher licenses, previous disaster communications experience) responded to the call.

For myself, I am appropriately credentialed in both amateur radio and disaster communications, but I don't have previous experience. I'd also be a bad choice as I have almost no HF experience. Even if I'd been able to volunteer to be deployed, they wouldn't have taken me.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 01:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
The US doesn't have such a team??? I'm surprised to hear this. Pete, can you elaborate please?


I know for sure that the US Army, Marine Corps and Navy all have this sort of capability.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 01:20 AM

There is a misunderstanding above. I didn't say that the US military does not have a team for water purification. I'm just saying that I don't KNOW personally - who in our military covers that sort of thing (who's got the equipment, which base, etc.). I'm sure the gear and training exists somewhere.

The suggestion to use Navy ships is still an excellent idea.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 03:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Pete
There is a misunderstanding above. I didn't say that the US military does not have a team for water purification. I'm just saying that I don't KNOW personally - who in our military covers that sort of thing (who's got the equipment, which base, etc.). I'm sure the gear and training exists somewhere.

The suggestion to use Navy ships is still an excellent idea.


Agreed on all counts.

We're apparently doing a lot of the right thing in Puerto Rico right now. What I'm reading tells me that the Navy, Marine Corps and the American Red Cross are leading the efforts.
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 05:29 PM

Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
We're apparently doing a lot of the right thing in Puerto Rico right now. What I'm reading tells me that the Navy, Marine Corps and the American Red Cross are leading the efforts.
All the US military services are responding in Puerto Rico, including the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

That being said, the Marine/Navy team are ideally configured for a situation like this. There are at least two Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) deployed on Navy ships at all times. Humanitarian assistance is one of the missions that MEUs train for. An MEU is designed to be entirely self sufficient even in austere environments, and includes its own logistics, engineers, medical, and aviation assets. Being deployed at sea on Navy amphibious ships, an MEU is ideal for responding to disasters in coastal regions.
Quote:
The MEU is unique in that its air and ground combat elements are combined with a logistics combat element under one commander; other services do not unite the command of air and ground forces until much higher command levels.
----------snip--------
This air-ground task force concept is designed to thoroughly exploit the combat power inherent in air and ground assets by closely integrating them into a single force. The MEU brings all the supplies and logistical support it needs to sustain itself for quick mission accomplishment or to pave the way for any follow-up forces. This self-sustainment allows more flexibility in disposition and operations of forces, and allows the MEU to initiate operations sooner and let support catch up later, without having to wait for external logistical support to begin a mission. Deployments on U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships allows MEUs to seabase around the globe, ready for deployment at short notice.
A typical MEU has approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors.

I believe the 26th MEU is the one currently assisting in the Caribbean area.

Posted by: Montanero

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 07:19 PM

In addition to their maritime and littoral capabilities, they possess all of the other capabilities and functions as the other services. In some cases more. The USMC has more air movement capability organic than the Army does (C-130 air lift).
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 07:25 PM

I think the complaints about slow response in Puerto Rico do not consider the size of the area impacted, the destruction of infrastructure, and, basically, the complexity of rendering aid in chaotic conditions.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/27/17 10:12 PM

OK ... GREAT NEWS to see all these US military teams going into action in PR. I'm sure the locals feel like it is "chaos", but it won't take long for the military to coordinate the response. My guess is that if various military teams are responding - then they will probably divide the island into sectors, and give each team its own responsibility.

One good thing ... this will seriously reduce any problems with crime and looting of houses. Poor people don't have any home insurance, and if things gets stolen - it is a "lifetime loss". So I imagine there is some tension on the streets. But hopefully the military can restore control.
Posted by: bws48

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/28/17 12:08 AM

+1.
There was an NBC news report that supplies are beginning to back up because of the difficulty of clearing the roads to allow trucks to deliver the supplies. It is a big island, and a lot of roads to clear.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/28/17 07:02 PM

Yes.

I am confident that the military will clear the roads and get the supplies through. The US military can get this done. But it takes a little time, and the local citizens will be suffering until critical roads get opened.

I have mostly seen disaster areas in other parts of the world. And the story there is usually horrific. Generally, the roads NEVER do get opened. The roads are in horrible shape, and the local government often does not care (major corruption). Only a small fraction of supplies delivered (in emergencies) actually make it to the people who are truly suffering. The rest is all "picked off" ... food is stolen, or left rotting on the side of the road. Very, very common. Sad to see, but all too common.

BUT ... Puerto Rico won't be that way (I hope!!). I do think that the commitment of the US military will be positive factor in restoring law and order. What they really need ... is an "Emergency Czar" with the ability to sweep away problems, and get things moving.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 12:24 PM

FEMA Director Urges Americans To Develop "A True Culture Of Preparedness" But No One Is Listening.
I'm shocked shocked Does this mean the ETS website has just been validated and approved by FEMA?
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 03:08 PM

Mayor Of Puerto Rico Very Upset ...
"This is not a good news story. This is a people-are-dying story."

https://www.yahoo.com/news/san-juan-mayo...-134225479.html
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 03:13 PM

I am sympathetic in every way towards the Puerto Ricans who are suffering. They didn't have much time to prepare for Hurricane Maria, and their island was already drenched by rain from Hurricane Irma. They have a lot of poor people. Preparedness was not a real solution for them. Only a swift-and-mighty response after the disaster can save lives.

I am sure the US military is trying hard.

The REAL LESSON here is for the people of Los Angeles. Take note. The disaster response could not get supplies to 3.6 million people ... one week after a major disaster. What do you think will happen in a region with more than 30 million people, after a huge earthquake??

Hence the FEMA Director "ain't lying". Preparedness is a life-or-death issue.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 04:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Pete


The REAL LESSON here is for the people of Los Angeles. Take note. The disaster response could not get supplies to 3.6 million people ... one week after a major disaster. What do you think will happen in a region with more than 30 million people, after a huge earthquake??

Hence the FEMA Director "ain't lying". Preparedness is a life-or-death issue.



Precisely on target comment. Someday, it will be our turn in the barrel and the PR situation is a previews of the problems inherent in large scale infrastructure destruction. Our planning is focused on something like self-sufficiency for three weeks, rather than three days.

The PR situation is far from good, but I think responders are valiantly striving to accomplish intricate logistical feats - hugely difficult when the infrastructure has gone so far South...
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 05:51 PM

For people caught in a major disaster, it probably always seems like help takes too long to arrive. Regarding Puerto Rico, it is hard to tell how much of the problems are due to the size of the incident and the geographic difficulties.

That being said, it is beginning to sound like the people down there may have some legitimate complaints about the speed and scale of the response. The WaPo article U.S. response in Puerto Rico pales next to actions after Haiti quake makes interesting reading.
Quote:
After an earthquake shattered Haiti’s capital on Jan. 12, 2010, the U.S. military mobilized as if it were going to war. Before dawn the next morning, an Army unit was airborne, on its way to seize control of the main airport in Port-au-Prince. Within two days, the Pentagon had 8,000 American troops en route. Within two weeks, 33 U.S. military ships and 22,000 troops had arrived. More than 300 military helicopters buzzed overhead, delivering millions of pounds of food and water.

No two disasters are alike. Each delivers customized violence that cannot be fully anticipated. But as criticism of the federal government’s initial response to the crisis in Puerto Rico continued to mount Thursday, the mission to Haiti — an island nation several hundred miles from the U.S. mainland — stands as an example of how quickly relief efforts can be mobilized.

By contrast, eight days after Hurricane Maria ripped across neighboring Puerto Rico, just 4,400 service members were participating in federal operations to assist the devastated island, an Army general told reporters Thursday. In addition, about 1,000 Coast Guard members were aiding the efforts. About 40 U.S. military helicopters were helping to deliver food and water to the 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory, along with 10 Coast Guard helicopters.

Leaders of the humanitarian mission in Haiti said in interviews that they were dismayed by the relative lack of urgency and military muscle in the initial federal response to Puerto Rico’s catastrophe.
Posted by: Montanero

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 07:12 PM

Well, at the risk of venturing into the political, the Washington Post is a rather biased source, and like any media outlet, requires a good bit of critical thinking when you read it. They are very open about their bias in their reporting.

There were large numbers of military already engaged in other disasters and operations:
Afghanistan is ramping up
Iraq/Syria is ramping up
North Korea is ramping up
Forces were already in Houston for disaster relief
Forces were already in Florida and the Caribbean for disaster relief
Forces were on standby for Puerto Rico before the hurricane hit

Other responsibilities and missions do not end, and disaster assistance is not a real mission of the US armed forces, it is a capability that is used, but they prepare and resource for missions.

The US military does not have unlimited resources. Comparing with an earthquake is like comparing apples and oranges. The differences in the types of damage and how widespread are great. For an island where the airfields, ports and transportation infrastructure is so heavily, and universally, damaged; and the neighboring territories are similarly damaged, it is a good deal more difficult. The time period of the Haiti earthquake was when the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq were winding down, so more forces were available. There were also not back to back disasters, it was an isolated event. The population of Haiti is much larger than that of Puerto Rico, as is the size.
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 08:24 PM

Montanero, I agree that WaPo is not an unbiased source, but it is generally well respected. Then again, I'm not sure that there is any such thing as a truly unbiased source?

In any case, I didn't take the article as being critical of the military. The military takes the assignment it is given, and the resources made available, and does the best job they can under those constraints. I don't want this discussion to go off on a political tangent, so I'll leave it at that.

I do have a minor quibble with one comment of yours:
Originally Posted By: Montanero
Other responsibilities and missions do not end, and disaster assistance is not a real mission of the US armed forces, it is a capability that is used, but they prepare and resource for missions.
Disaster assistance is indeed a real mission of at least some portions of the US armed forces. Up thread I noted that the 26th MEU is already active in Puerto Rico. The Marine Corps has defined 10 Mission Essential Tasks (METS) for MEUs. (For example see 31st MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT OVERVIEW (mission and composition) .) One of those is explicitly stated as "Humanitarian Assistance" (HA). And every MEU does training and exercises for their HA mission during the 6 month work up prior to deployment. (For example 31st MEU trains for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief mission

The Coast Guard is part of the US armed forces, and humanitarian assistance and disaster aid is certainly part of their mission. I'm less familiar with the Army and Air Force, but I suspect various units in those services also have an explicitly stated mission of disaster response.
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 08:42 PM

My impression from reading the news is that the slow response to the crisis in Puerto Rico is political and cultural, rather than practical or logistical. Where as the response to Houston and Florida was swift, there is just less political pressure on Puerto Rico. One the reasons may be that many Americans don't realize Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, and its residents are Americans. There is certainly a lot less media coverage on Puerto Rico. By comparison, the hour by hour update on Irma nearly gave me nightmares!

I feel like if we go deeper into this topic, the discussion will be unsuitable for this forum. But I started wondering, how do we know when a (seeming) delay is due to the size of the disaster? What are the administrative decisions/commands that must be given to set the effort in motion? How do the relief organizations (the military, for example) get ready to go and help?
Posted by: Montanero

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 09:04 PM

Yes, the Coast Guard is part of the armed forces, but they do have a unique mission set (mostly law enforcement). They have little to do with war fighting. While there are some organizations that have a stated mission, it is a "when called upon, when necessary" mission based on what is already organic in organization, equipment, capabilities and training. Fighting wars is the primary purpose of the military, and the wars, and potential wars necessarily take priority. I have even seen congress refuse to fund disaster assistance training and equipment, because it does not enhance the primary missions.

There was no delay in response, it was more a matter of the initial response not meeting expectations of some people, mostly people who are not involved in the effort and are very emotionally involved, as they are the ones needing help. It is not magic, it takes time and there are not unlimited resources. The assistance is doing well with what they have, and more is on the way. More was planned from the beginning, as a follow on in case it was needed. Information is the key resource at the beginning, and it has to start somewhere.

The humanitarian assistance mission can take many forms. It is not specifically disaster relief.

Yes, AKSAR, I do not know of any media outlet or source of information that does not have some bias at least. The respect you refer to for the Washington Post is not universal, and they do come out publicly in support or opposition to particular politicians, and this article was an attempt to compare things that were not comparable.

Another aspect of this is the legal one. Like with Louisiana in Hurricane Katrina, the federal government can't legally deploy military or federal assets without the request from the governor. In Puerto Rico, this was requested before the hurricane. In Louisiana, the governor did not request it until much later than expected, even refusing the offer and suggestion from the federal level at first. You generally see now that the governors will think about getting ahead of the problem, as Puerto Rico did, to avoid a Katrina disaster.
Posted by: bws48

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 09:18 PM

I am still hearing on the news that relief supplies are piling up in port, and that road clearing is taking time, that truck drivers cannot/are not reporting to work to drive trucks to deliver relief supplies. I also heard it reported that specialized search/rescue crews have been diverted to road clearing duties because they can't get to where their skills are needed. (various NBC News reports)

The lack of a fully functioning road network seems to be a major, if not the critical problem and cause of the delay in getting on island resources to the people who need them.

According to the CIA World Fact book, PR has 26,862 km [about 16,691 miles] of roads throughout the island---a big job to get all that open. Haiti, in comparison, has about 4,266 km (about 2,651 miles) of roads. Exactly what percentage of these roads are blocked is unknown, but it appears to be very widespread.

Houston has road access from almost every direction, and boats could be launched into the flood waters to travel around from residential streets; it is much harder to travel on roads blocked by downed trees, various windblown debris and possibly (probably) washed out roads and damaged bridges: plus, everything needed to deal with those problems needs to be brought in by ship and aircraft---where stuff is already piling up. No guys with pickups and boats on trailers to help (Kudos to Cajun Navy!).

So, while I agree that more help is needed, I think the problem is harder and more complex than just sending more stuff and people. Road communications need to be restored. Doing it is going to be a hard, slow task.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 09:27 PM

While it is true that Puerto Rico does not figure in the College (that might matter to some politicos), I want to emphasize the logistical complications of simply being on an island, without land access from unaffected states.

At Channel Islands National Park, we found that any project, simply because it was going to take place on an island, increased costs by about one=third, to say nothing of related staffing and storage concerns. Puerto Rico is also fairly distant from the mainland, unlike the Ch islands. Resources were already strained by Harvey and Irma, and the infrastructure was rickety, even before the hurricane.

We could have done better,and I'll bet many mainlanders are surprised to learn that Puerto Ricans are US citizens (doubtless a subtle factor) but the situation is not at all another Katrina IMHO.
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 09:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Montanero
Another aspect of this is the legal one. Like with Louisiana in Hurricane Katrina, the federal government can't legally deploy military or federal assets without the request from the governor. In Puerto Rico, this was requested before the hurricane. In Louisiana, the governor did not request it until much later than expected, even refusing the offer and suggestion from the federal level at first. You generally see now that the governors will think about getting ahead of the problem, as Puerto Rico did, to avoid a Katrina disaster.
It is no longer the case that the federal government must wait for a request from a governor to deploy federal assets. One of the changes made after Katrina was to move FEMA to more of a "push" model (as opposed to a "pull" from the governor). Within certain limits, FEMA now has considerable authority to move assets and stage resources in advance of a predicted disaster such as a hurricane.

This was noted in the WaPo article:
"W. Craig Fugate, [----snip----] said that in a worst-case scenario, such as a tsunami, the federal government had long contemplated that Puerto Rico could be completely isolated, with its ports destroyed and all food and water needing to be airlifted onto the island or shuttled by Marine units that could land on beaches. Fugate said FEMA did not have to wait for a signal from Puerto Rican authorities before activating more military assets."(Emphasis added)
(Note that Fugate, a former director of FEMA, is very widely respected in the emergency management community, across the political spectrum.)
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/29/17 10:48 PM

Montanero said ... "There were large numbers of military already engaged in other disasters and operations:
Afghanistan is ramping up
Iraq/Syria is ramping up
North Korea is ramping up
Forces were already in Houston for disaster relief
Forces were already in Florida and the Caribbean for disaster relief
Forces were on standby for Puerto Rico before the hurricane hit

Other responsibilities and missions do not end, and disaster assistance is not a real mission of the US armed forces, it is a capability that is used, but they prepare and resource for missions."

----------------
It's a very good point. It's what I had in mind when I commented that I was not sure "who" in the US military actually covers these humanitarian missions.

I don't really know how they (our military) are covering so many bases at the same time. Almost looks like Mission Impossible. Especially with Afghanistan increasing again, and North Korea looking really serious, it seems like SF troops should be headed in those directions. I would not complain.

Maybe the US military should delegate the Army Corp of Engineers to these civilian disasters, plus whatever Naval units are in the reserves. I don't think we should be tying down our frontline troops, at a time like this.

All we need is one more major military emergency - anywhere in the world - and we are not going to be able to **cover** all of the bases.
Posted by: Montanero

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 02:39 AM

AKSAR, I have not worked these issues for a while and was not aware of the legal change for FEMA. There is always a legal issue to deal with though. The governor of Puerto Rico was ahead of the game and working to organize the relief effort before the hurricane hit.

The involvement of the military is still more difficult than other assets. There are many legal issues, and though streamlined a bit, I am sure are still a pain to navigate and do not happen instantaneously.

And for Pete, those SF troops have been deploying constantly, all over the world, since long before 9/11, and they are stretched thin. The operational tempo for all of the special operations forces has been very high since 9/11, and is only getting worse. It is a "Truth" of special operations that professional SOF must be created and trained BEFORE the emergency, they take time to have really good ones.

Bottom line, the aid Puerto Rico needs is coming, but it is difficult and does not happen over night. Everyone would gladly volunteer to go and help. It is a process, not magic. If people and local governments were better prepared they would not be in such dire circumstances. Maybe the Boy Scout Emergency Preparedness program should be required for all city government and above personnel. The more preparation that is done before the emergency, the less has to be done to resolve the emergency.

Having been involved in some things like this, I can say it is difficult and takes time. No matter how well you planned, there are always difficulties and contingencies.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 04:26 AM

It's unfortunate that they were the third or fourth (of even fifth?) disaster to come along in a short time span. Certainly it's true that the US doesn't have infinite resources; between our multiple wars and ongoing relief efforts around the globe we're being spread thin. I expect the military will do all they can.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 09:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
I feel like if we go deeper into this topic, the discussion will be unsuitable for this forum. But I started wondering, how do we know when a (seeming) delay is due to the size of the disaster? What are the administrative decisions/commands that must be given to set the effort in motion? How do the relief organizations (the military, for example) get ready to go and help?

You wont know whether a delay is due the size of the disaster. One could use a common sense approach though. Even in relatively small disasters the emergency response units need some time to assess the situation and decide on a course of action. When the scale is larger the required time for assessing the situation is bound to not satisfy the victims. You´ll probably never hear people affected by a disaster say "I wish they had responded slower".
Now add some difficulties in the logistics, depleted supplies and resources grounded for maintenance and it will slow down the effort even more. The deployable assets are not the only limited resource. Maintenance crews have limited capacity as well.
The amount of media coverage may well be connected to the difficulties to actually reach the area. It may not really reflect the effort that is put into the response.
Posted by: bws48

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 12:25 PM

Apparently we have begun to send truck drivers to PR to replace the local drivers who can't get to work, so that the supplies can be delivered. I am going to speculate the none of the emergency plans identified the need to move truck drivers into the area.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 02:07 PM

I have to be careful so as not go political. One of the earlier comments I heard regarding the Puerto Rico effort was that the locals were competent and could provide a lot of the manpower. Now we're providing truck drivers???
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 03:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Russ
I have to be careful so as not go political. One of the earlier comments I heard regarding the Puerto Rico effort was that the locals were competent and could provide a lot of the manpower. Now we're providing truck drivers???
It sounds like many drivers are unable to get to the port to work, for the same reasons trucks aren't getting out. Lake of gas, damaged roads, etc. Also, if the driver's families are in dire straits, the drivers may feel they need to stay home and care for their families, protect their homes from looters etc etc. If it were a choice between reporting for work, or protecting your family, what would you do?

Another less obvious issue is that the current situation requires a big surge of trucking. Most of the island has been without supply for over a week now. Presumably Puerto Rico, like the most of the rest of the world, in normal times has goods supplied "just in time". What Russ buys in the store today was probably delivered yesterday or the day before. Now Puerto Rico suddenly has more than a week of supply backlog that must be moved from the ports. Even if every regular driver on the island was available, it might still not be enough for the current surge.

Not to derail the thread, but most people are totally unaware about what "just in time" really means for the stuff they consume. I went to a talk awhile back about planning for an earthquake disaster in Alaska. An emergency manager from Fairbanks said they estimate that at any given time, the stores in Fairbanks have on their shelves and in their storerooms about a one day supply of food for Fairbanks. The stuff Fairbanks will buy tomorrow is in the store today. The stuff for day after tomorrow is in trucks on the way from the port of Anchorage. And the stuff for the day after that is being unloaded in the port now. And the stuff for the day after that is on a ship somewhere between Tacoma and Anchorage. It is a marvelously efficient system when everything is working. But it is also a very fragile system. Something to think about.
Posted by: Montanero

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 03:48 PM

All the more reason to prepare in advance, at the personal, family, community and government levels. Never get into the position that you are depending on others to take care of your needs.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 04:17 PM

Not to derail the thread, but most people are totally unaware about what "just in time" really means for the stuff they consume.
---------------

Agree with you on this whole "just in time" idea.
It only works when there are perfect transportation conditions. It is also based on the assumption that everybody in the supply chain does not have a lot of depot storage. It's actually the complete opposite of "preparedness" thinking. I'm not sure how much PR is involved in the Just-In-Time system. But the "Just-In-Time" philosophy undermines the give-and-take that is needed for emergency situations.

BACK TO OUR MAIN POINT - which is exactly what Montanero just said. We really can't be relying on other people for our essential needs. Since the "system" is not stockpiling items ... we have to do it in our own homes.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 05:53 PM

The plans could have identified the need.
I would speculate that phase 1 is to recruit local truck drivers first. Phase 2 would be to fill the ranks with non-locals. That´s what´s happening now. The same might be required for the vehicles.
Getting the supplies to PR may have had higher priority as the truck drivers can´t haul the cargo if they don´t have any.
Posted by: Ren

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 06:53 PM

It's like seeing people trying to get companies that make small power banks/generators/panels to help out. As if they keep masses of stock waiting around doing nothing.

Shame no longer have WWII levels of Landing Craft which could stock with supplies and land on beeches all around the island.

Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 09/30/17 07:22 PM

"Landing Craft which could stock with supplies and land on beeches all around the island."

Super-good idea.
The authorities really need a large supply-ship for emergencies, and a whole bunch of amphibious landing craft - dedicated specifically to humanitarian relief.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/02/17 07:18 PM

UPDATE

People in PR now into their second week without basic supplies and medicines.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/in-puer...ocid=spartandhp

Note that some people talk about having less than $20. It's getting near-impossible for them to buy basics, assuming they can even find a store with the basics.

From time to time there are general stories in the press in the USA about why we should become a "cashless society". This shows why that is such a bad idea.
Posted by: Ren

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/02/17 09:11 PM

Was reading FEMA twitter @FEMAspox

30th Sept

Drinking water is being restored; 45% of customers now have potable water, following testing by @EPA and local officials in Puerto Rico

Stores are opening: +60% of gas stations operating & providing fuel; 49% of grocery & big box stores on the island now open in Puerto Rico


I assume that's biased toward the more highly populated urban areas.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/02/17 10:47 PM

ok .. reasonable response. they are making progress, but not in all areas. sounds like next week will be better. but this week is still tough for a lot of people.
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 01:35 PM

Air National Guard Restores FAA Capabilities For Puerto Rico
Air Traffic At San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport Is 'Back To Normal', Authorities Say

A week and a half post hurricane Maria, it is hard to tell the FAA was at “ground zero” and in the dark with no power or communications capabilities. Now, the air traffic flow at San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport is back to normal thanks to the relationship between the Air National Guard stepped in to help the FAA and restore air operations for the island.

The Sept. 20 storm left Puerto Rico destroyed a key generator used by the FAA to power their control center that directs aircraft movement in and around the island. The FAA’s San Juan Center is responsible for directing the movement of civilian and military aircraft for takeoff and landing, but also any aircraft flying in the vicinity.

, said, “We take it for granted,” said Edward Tirado, an operations manager with the Puerto Rico FAA, as he points to a telephone. “It seems so simple, but it’s a lifeline for our operations. After the storm we had nothing. Thanks to our relationship with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, they were able to provide us with the assistance we needed to get back up and running and now the Air National Guard is supporting us with redundancy as a backup now that power is restored to our building.”

The loss of power and communications lines created a situation where all aircraft traffic had to be controlled by visual and physical spacing. Only one aircraft could arrive or leave the island every 10 minutes, or six per hour, to ensure that the aircraft were safely separated. Under normal operating conditions, an airport the size of San Juan International can handle about 45 flights per hour. The limited aircraft movement choked the supply chain of critical material and personnel.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard, while in a recovery state itself, saw the big picture and knew they needed to immediately support the FAA. The focus of the PRANG’s assistance was to help re-establish local and ground-to-air communications and to re-establish radar coverage of the air space above the island and surrounding area.

Lt. Col. Humberto Pabon, the vice wing commander of the PRANG’s 156th Airlift Wing understood the gravity of the situation and the necessity to restore air operations capabilities so he set teams in motion.

“Our communications flight immediately engaged with the FAA at the airport, to begin that process. We worked with various Guard resources to provide power and immediate data link access,” Pabon said.

With basic communications established, the number of flights taking place per hour, began to climb, from six per hour, to 18 per hour two days after the storm, to more than 30 and finally into the upper 30s and low 40s which is normal operations .
After the storm, the PRANG’s 156th Communications Flight, had immediately established a JISCC – Joint Incident Site Communications Capability team – giving Air Guard commanders local communications and get their own air operation back online.
Another Air National Guard JISCC unit, the 126th from Illinois, is powering the 156th’s command post and airfield management office, restoring ramp operations at Muniz. The commanders and team members from all three JISCCs pulled resources and knowledge to work with the FAA and get them back up and running.

In the spirit of community partnership, the PRANG provided its additional resource of from Wisconsin, the 115th Communications Flight, to set up a separate JISCC at the FAA communications center at San Juan. This allowed San Juan Center to begin having direct communications with inbound and outbound aircraft again.

“We had to come up with multiple solutions to every challenge, said Capt.Jeff Rutkowski, commander of the Wisconsin JISCC. “We’d try something and the first solution wouldn’t work. We’d get something started and realize that a better idea came along and we’d switch to that. We were dealing with a scenario where so many things were damaged, we really had to get creative.”

“This support between the Guard and the FAA is unprecedented,” said 2nd Lt. Jose Arroyo-Cruz, a 156th cyberspace operations officer and one of hundreds of PRANG Citizen-Airmen who have been on the job since before the storm hit. “We had a hole in the sky over Puerto Rico. It was a giant hole in the highway in the sky. We had to fix that hole before we could bring in aid to the people of Puerto Rico.”
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 02:25 PM

Thanks, Doug, for a detailed look at the nitty gritty of reestablishing infrastructure after a disaster. As one taking notes that might be applicable to a big earthquake, would it be possible to park an aircraft carrier in or near Long Beach harbor as a substitute for LAX?

I like to think that when SoCal experiences the Big One, carriers, etc. will be handy things to have....
Posted by: Russ

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 02:37 PM

I wonder how much electricity an aircraft carrier could realistically add to the electric grid. A nuclear reactor can generate a lot of heat used to make steam and turn turbines, but how does that translate into providing electricity to the SOCAL grid? An aircraft carrier in port uses shore power, but is an aircraft carrier wired to send electricity back to the shore?
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Russ
I wonder how much electricity an aircraft carrier could realistically add to the electric grid. A nuclear reactor can generate a lot of heat used to make steam and turn turbines, but how does that translate into providing electricity to the SOCAL grid? An aircraft carrier in port uses shore power, but is an aircraft carrier wired to send electricity back to the shore?


I am under the (potentially mistaken) impression that generation capacity isn't the issue, rather that it's the transmission lines.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 03:52 PM

I think the utility of an aircraft carrier would be not in pumping electricity into the grid, but as more of a point from which aircraft (mostly choppers) could supply populations and control air traffic.
Posted by: wildman800

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 04:17 PM

CVN’s have been hooked up to the Manhattan grid during several major outages to supply electricity to critical infrastructure such as hospitals, Police & Civil Government facilities, etc.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 04:32 PM

it would be worth having an old CVN that is dedicated just to this one purpose - emergency assistance, emergency electrical power, and drinking water. It could be a lifesaver. It could be run by a "skeleton crew" of Navy personnel, with help from trained volunteers.
Posted by: Ren

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 10/03/17 05:22 PM

Was post circulating that two nuclear submarines had been sent to provide electricity. Seems that is false.

Though the idea has been planned by Naval and civil engineers in a previous disaster, it has never been tried.

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/11/29/us/navy-seeks-to-return-power-to-stricken-hawaii-island.html
Posted by: TeacherRO

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 12/05/17 07:38 PM

Amazed that PR is still without many infrastructure repairs -- power clean water, jobs.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 12/07/17 05:24 AM

They have really suffered. The impact on PR will probably last for years.
Posted by: acropolis5

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 12/08/17 07:03 AM

Wildman800: I put great store in you posts and opinions. But forgive my surprise when you say that CVNs have hooked up to Manhattan Island to supply power to hospitals etc. I’ve lived in the area my whole long life and I’ve been engaged in emergency services almost all my adult life, so I have intimate familiarity.

The only place you could dock a CVN , off Manhattan ,is at a midtown , Westside dock, on the Hudson River, neart the Intrepid. Intrepid is now NYC,s Emergency Ops HQ. I never remember seeing a CVN docked in that area in any blackout. I m including in my recollection all the way back to the 1965 Blackout. I drive within sight of that area several times a week.

I would love to be wrong in my skepticism. Please feel free to correct and educate me. It sounds like a great story or stories. I’d like to read-up on the history.
Posted by: acropolis5

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 12/08/17 07:35 AM

Pete: Recommissionlng an old CVN as a disaster relief airport/ hospital/ stores ship and emergency ops center , staffed as you describe , is a brilliant, very doable idea. With a flight wing of a mix of Grumman C-2 Greyhounds, perhaps V-22 Tilt Rotor Ospreys, as well as heavy and light helos, it would be a formidable weapon in disaster relief.

Another and somewhat smaller additions to such a disaster relief fleet would be retired Landig Ship Platforms (LPD) and Landing Ship Docks (LSD). Albeit, their aircraft decks are too small for the Greyhounds to operate, the V-22s and helos would work well, although in smaller numbers than a CVN can house. In addition the LPDs & LPHs could deploy small landing craft for delivery of relief workers, goods & services to beachs or small docks. Casualties & refugees could be evavacuated in reverse. Those ships are designed to house hundreds of troop and their vehicles. They are also designed to treat hundreds of medical trauma casualties. Their value is obvious.
Posted by: AKSAR

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 12/09/17 08:07 PM

It is always difficult to get an accurate toll of fatalities from natural disasters. In a hurricane do you only count people who died directly from wind and flooding? Or do you also count those who died because they could not get adequate medical care due to disruption of power and transportation? If so, how do you quantify that. NY Times has an interesting approach to the problem.

Official Toll in Puerto Rico: 64. Actual Deaths May Be 1,052.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 12/09/17 09:09 PM

As an engineer I would not mix a count of direct fatalities and an estimate, which I would expect to be not very accurate.
However the estimate can be useful to indentify potential risks and needs for the aftermath and help to plan for them. Keeping the data separate may make it more readily available for use in planning for other disasters and maybe even humanitary crisis.
Adding the figures up to a total may make some people feel better or provide arguments when asking for support as it illustrates how hard they were hit. That can be a value in itself.
Posted by: TeacherRO

Re: Puerto Rico - Real Large-Scale Emergency - 03/23/18 09:55 PM

They are still recovering; most have power.