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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Hurricane season prep continues in Loíza with public event this Saturday

Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes

By The Star Staff

Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes chaired a meeting of municipal officials on Monday at the northern coastal town’s Emergency Operations Center to review the Multi-Risk Plan for Emergency and Disaster Response, in the face of the start of the hurricane season, although it is designed for the whole year.

“What we have learned since hurricanes Irma and Maria we are putting into an organized and detailed plan, also expanded by what we experienced in the pandemic and earthquakes,” Nazario Fuentes said. “The mission is that our municipal administrative body is ready to activate before any large-scale emergency, at any time of the year.”

Municipal adviser Nazario Lugo Burgos, a former executive director of the State Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD by its Spanish acronym), noted that in relation to the hurricane season, which begins next week (June 1), Colorado State University has indicated that during 2023 there could be 13 tropical storms, of which six could become hurricanes, and two of those could be major storms.

“Being a flat and coastal town, with three bodies of water that surround us -- Boca de Cangrejos at the entrance of Loíza, Río Grande in the center of Loíza and Río Herrera on the border with Río Grande -- added to all the streams and pipes, the plan is to keep these bodies of water clean of debris, along with orientation for the communities and training for the leaders,”the mayor said.

This Saturday, May 27, the municipality will sponsor an event called “Ready for Emergencies” for the general public at the Cueva María de la Cruz Historical Park facilities from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“There we will have information tables, talks and orientations on the challenges and dangers in times of emergency,” said Yeidimar Escobar del Valle, director of the Municipal Planning Office. “This activity is for everyone to work and improve individual and collective resilience.”

Among the confirmed attendees are Michelle Bermúdez from Prepárate Puerto Rico, along with representatives of the National Weather Service (NWS), Puerto Rico Seismic Network, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Loíza Integrated Health Council, LUMA Energy, Puerto Rico National Guard, Puerto Rico Police Bureau, Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration, Puerto Rico Firefighters Bureau Department of Health, U.S. Small Business Administration, island Housing Department, NMEAD, Family Department and 9-1-1 Emergency Systems Bureau, among other agencies and entities.

About three years ago the municipality implemented the “LoízAlerta” system, which consists of a strengthened security system in “text mob” format, which allows sending messages in real-time to Loiceños, as well as ambulances, vehicles for the municipal police, emergency alarms, and water displacement pumps located in communities that are flooded, as well as coordination of vehicles for the Rescue Unit and Station

Mobile weather. The system is in coordination with communications operators (KP4) and state and federal agencies.

“It works like the Amber alert, for example, but is designed for citizens residing in Loíza,” Nazario Fuentes said. “This is in addition to social media messages, sound buses by communities and coordinated efforts of community leaders.”

One of the topics addressed was the Incident Command System generated by FEMA, which was adapted for Loíza’s particular needs.

“This is a standardized command system for all types of emergencies and coordinated events,” the mayor said. “As it is a flexible structure, it applies different levels of complexity for the effective management of cases.”

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