Officials defend handling of rain emergency
By The Star Staff
Public Safety Secretary Alexis Torres and Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Bureau Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno on Monday defended the central government’s handling of the rain and flooding emergency caused by a low-pressure trough that dumped record amounts of precipitation on the island over the weekend.
“We reacted and it was what we understood [to be the proper course of action] at the time. We decided to be in the street with the mayors,” Torres said at a press conference. “The COE [Emergency Operations Center, by its Spanish initials] was on the street. The secretaries of the various agencies were visiting the mayors, the situations that were being affected, and that is how we handled it.”
Correa Filomeno maintained meanwhile that the government’s actions were sharply criticized because the officials held no press conference at the COE.
“I remain firm, because there really is a lot of work to do,” he said. “Here we are not violating any type of federal procedure. Here the importance of the mayor, his working group, the community knowing that we are here for them, that is what we are going to promote, because this changed four years ago. Let’s not try to turn back time.”
“Perhaps some can talk about why some detail was or was not done. No, no, no sir! We have been here for many years handling emergency situations and we are clear about the reason why God has us here,” Correa Filomeno said. “There were some changes and along the way we adjusted or molded our strategy. And the fact that the agency heads, including the secretaries and interagency coordinators who are sitting in the COE as they are today, it was important that we go to the ‘field’ and attend to those needs hand in hand with the mayor[s] by phone or in person. That’s how we did it and that’s the important thing. Changes have to be made here and we are going to make them.”
Torres insisted that the media were present in the places where the emergencies were being addressed and that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia visited those locations.