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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Senate panel evaluates Correa’s appointment as emergency management czar

Nino Correa Filomeno, interim commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD/Facebook)

By The Star Staff

The Appointments Committee headed by Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago reviewed the appointment of Nino Correa Filomeno as commissioner of the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD by its Spanish acronym), who highlighted the importance of preparing communities and making them part of emergency plans.

“I have also always said, it is not about Nino Correa. It is a great working group, which the Heavenly Father allows you to help others in the way we have done until now,” said Correa Filomeno, who has been working at the agency for 23 years and the last three as interim commissioner. “And following that line, and having here people who have to do with these changes in terms of nature and the conditions we find ourselves in. … We have experienced many things and we are trying to prepare ourselves as a people, taking into consideration the experiences we have had in the last seven or eight years.”

Dalmau Santiago asked the nominee how he evaluates the emergency management response and what changes can be made after the experience of Hurricane Maria.

“In my 42 years, I have never known of an emergency that when called, isn’t attended to. They have all been attended to,” Correa Filomeno said. “I think that, along the way, for so long that we lived, where with the passage of Hurricane Maria, we have to draw a line to the last atmospheric system that directly affected us, which was Hurricane Georges in 1998. So, in this sense, 17 years had passed since we saw the systems arrive and obviously we felt confident that we were properly prepared.”

The interim official added that “I have tried to make people know and understand that it is important for the community to also prepare for this.”

“Because in terms of habit it leads you to create the feeling that they have to serve me,” he said. “And when we respond to an emergency, … everything you have in place beforehand as preparation is important.”

The Senate leader asked about events that are often mentioned such as global warming, other things should be considered that are affecting the Caribbean. Correa Filomeno said regarding climate change that “there are a number of efforts, including at the university level, that we want to impact so that our youth, our children, the executive, the professional, the private company, the municipality, we all focus on what climate change is.”

“I can bring you the example that we are experiencing exactly today, where since yesterday we have had a rain event that is something very atypical, it is something that was not seen, it is something that does not coincide with having a fire season,” Correa Filomeno said. “And nature is taking us and bringing us a clear message that there is a behavior in nature that we will never know what the magnitude could be, that becomes an event that we have to react to.”

The official also indicated that he has constant communication with the municipalities. He noted that more than 232 amateur radio operators are included and tested. Likewise, he noted that there is a project underway because those people are important in emergencies to maintain communication.

In her turn, Sen. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén pointed out that “you have our support as you have had in the interim appointments.” She then asked the nominee about the issue of coastal erosion. “It is one of the things that worries us the most because what were the coasts, I can talk about my town Loíza … they are conditions that when we go to construction we must continue to guide,” Correa Filomeno said. “And that is why we have projects with the Engineers Association, we have projects with the University of Puerto Rico and other universities where it is important that we do not continue building in a place where, in order to mitigate the problem, we cannot do it; they have already been thrown away.”

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