NEWS

Puerto Rico Office of Geology and Hydrogeology earns ASFPM’s 2019 Outreach Award

Jun 27, 2019 | News & Views, What's New

L-R: ASFPM Past Chair Maria Cox Lamm; Wilfredo Mas with the Puerto Rico Office of Geology and Hydrogeology; and ASFPM Executive Director Chad Berginnis.
Our Outreach/Media Award honors either the
media, an individual, private organization or governmental agency that
increased information and/or awareness of flood issues with the public. It acknowledges
efforts that go above and beyond what many others might do. And that describes
perfectly what the Puerto Rico Office of
Geology and Hydrogeology did after Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into
the island in September 2017.

Following
the hurricanes, FEMA provided the Puerto Rico Planning Board, the territory’s
floodplain administrator, with Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps that provide
updated flood hazard information to guide rebuilding.

After
receiving these maps, the Office of Geology and Hydrogeology deployed an
aggressive education and outreach campaign that first focused on 22 state
agencies. The department gave two training sessions to the building permitting
office and each of their building permit regional branches. To inform the
rebuilding process, they traveled to every one of the 78 communities in Puerto
Rico in the span of just a couple months to disseminate this risk information. They
invited everyone to the table and tailored each presentation to the specific
audience being addressed, reaching more than 1,000 people.
The
planning board ensured the governor’s buy-in on adopting the ABFEs into Puerto
Rico’s regulations, as well as incorporation of the 2018 International Codes
and with an important design wind speed amendment into the 2018 Puerto Rico
Building Code.

This
outreach campaign will surely have a long-lasting, educational benefit for
Puerto Rico as its communities prepare for, mitigate and respond to
disasters.

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