Sep 30, 2020
Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center experts assessed Hurricanes Irma and Maria's effect on Puerto Rico's municipalities' ability to govern, deliver services, and recover from the damage they incurred. They created a framework for assessing municipalities' recovery and developed courses of action to address damage and improve municipal capacity.
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To fulfill Congress's requirement for an economic and disaster-recovery plan for Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, a team from the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center conducted an analysis for the government of Puerto Rico and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The team assessed the hurricanes' effect on Puerto Rico's municipalities and the municipalities' ability to govern, deliver services, and recover from the damage they incurred.
To address information gaps in Puerto Rico, the team surveyed officials from all 78 municipal governments, conducted 12 regional roundtables with municipal officials, collected and analyzed available municipal-level data, and consulted with subject-matter experts. The team's analysis shows that municipal governments faced the hurricanes while dealing with severe fiscal constraints caused by declining income — something that complicated response and recovery efforts.
FEMA data revealed that the most–heavily affected municipalities were clustered in the southeast coast of the main island, where Maria made landfall, and the central mountainous region, where the rugged terrain exacerbated the hurricane's effects. The team created a framework to evaluate the rate at which different municipalities are recovering, which revealed that the most–heavily damaged municipalities are generally also the ones recovering most slowly.
Finally, working with the government of Puerto Rico and FEMA, the team developed a set of courses of action (COAs) for recovery aimed at improving municipalities' capacity to govern and deliver key services. These COAs focus on improving municipal fiscal conditions, implementing regional approaches to service delivery and planning, rebuilding urban centers, increasing transparency, and enhancing municipal capacity.
Introduction and Background
Sources and Methods
Municipal Voices on the Hurricanes' Impacts
Governance in Puerto Rico
Assessing Municipal Recovery
Recovery Courses of Action
Recovery Courses of Action
Municipal Fiscal Challenges and Initiatives
Municipal Recovery Indicator Data
Services, by Category
HSOAC is a federally funded research and development center operated by the RAND Corporation under contract with DHS.