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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Loíza prepares for the reality of climate change

Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes, right, is seen at Wednesday’s Senate confirmation hearing for Nino Correa Filomeno, the interim commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration.

By The Star Staff

Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes participated Thursday in a forum at the Public Health Trust of Puerto Rico, where along with specialists on the subject she presented the reality caused by climate change.

Nazario Fuentes was accompanied by Danaliz Dávila Fuentes, the school commissioner of the Municipality of Loíza, who noted that even in the municipality’s summer camps an environmental educational component is crucial.

“We experience that every day, from the force with which the waves hit the coast and cause erosion to the flooding caused by an hour of rain,” the mayor said. “For many years, our town was stripped of large amounts of sand from those natural dunes. All these types of things affect us, from community life, to the large amount of public resources that must be identified for mitigation.”

Fernando Pabón, director of the Caribbean Center for Sea Level Rise, said the island faces the urgency of the various levels of government addressing the need to review laws, regulations and visions to adapt Puerto Rico to the current reality.

“Each neighborhood has a different reality; in some places it is flooding, landslides or coastal erosion” he said. “Each place has its own reality and must be addressed in that way.”

Meanwhile, meteorologist Ada Monzón pointed out the importance of building resilience through education.

“The Exploratory Eco, founded 15 years ago, offers community tools to develop opportunities for new generations, not only in the face of climate change, but also in health and education,” Monzón said at the event held at the Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust in Río Piedras.

Monzón also announced that a comprehensive proposal to handle the prevailing reality will be presented to the Legislature in April.

She pointed out that “the important thing is that this education generates solidarity among resilient, kind-hearted citizens with their fellow human beings, beyond the scientific issue, which is also important.”

“Knowing the risks we face is part of that equation,” Monzón said.

Nazario Fuentes added that “the key is education and action.”

Separately, the Loíza mayor announced that her municipality is part of the multi-town effort in the eastern region of the island led by the Public Safety Department’s emergency bureau to work jointly on a pilot plan for a StormReady ( category recognition at the regional level.

“This program equips communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property, before, during, and after atmospheric events,” Nazario Fuentes said. “Let’s remember that being in the Caribbean, half of the year we are under hurricane season, so preventive action is mandatory.”

On Friday starting at 9:30 a.m. the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration and the National Meteorological Service, among others, will meet at the María de la Cruz Cave Historical Park facilities in Loíza with community leaders and officials from the municipalities of Carolina, Canóvanas, Ceiba, Culebra, Fajardo, Loíza, Luquillo, Río Grande, Trujillo Alto and Vieques for an informational and working meeting on the details of the StormReady plan, particularly those related to flooding, hurricane winds and landslides.

“Particularly for us in Loíza we have an additional threat, which is coastal erosion and sea level rise,” Nazario Fuentes said. “The issue of climate change has long ceased to be a threat, to become a reality that we live every day. These are situations that we are facing with courage and with the effective use of the resources we have, and the available scientific information, which is constantly evolving.”

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