by Carmen M. Figueroa, SC, PE
During March 20-21, 2018, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), held the Hurricane Disaster Infrastructure Resilience and Planning Workshop in Houston, TX, through a grant program from the United Engineering Foundation (UEF). The multidisciplinary workshop, the first of two similar events, was attended by several engineering societies, academics, professionals in the private practice, as well as industrial and public entities, all experts in disaster relief and resiliency. Representing IEMES, PSC, Eng. Carmen M. Figueroa was invited and participate providing input from her professional experience during the response and recovery period to date, after hurricanes Irma and María in Puerto Rico last September 2017.
The workshop focused on identifying priority issues that engineers could address to mitigate and prevent significant hurricane damages in the future. This by stressing the need to strategically prepare for and rebuild disaster susceptible areas affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Among the many issues discussed during the two-days forum, infrastructure specialists debated on matters that impacted preparedness and response after these storm events. The group identified the lack of investment in planning and preparedness for managing industrial resilience, lack of emergency planning for worst case scenarios, and the need to understand infrastructure systems, its boundaries and how they affect, as essential key issues that must be addressed promptly.
What should be done then? Focus on reducing impacts through infrastructure resiliency, improve response capability by involving intergovernmental and cross-sector policies to reduce implementation challenges, and promoting the use of science and engineering expertise.
We at IEMES, PSC are looking forward to attending the following workshop to be held by the end of Summer 2018. Moreover, we recognize the need and our interest in incorporating additional Puerto Rico professional and experts’ representation to this event or initiative. Our team is more than welcome to work with AIChE and UEF as local liaison for potential future events.
Fernando L. Rodríguez, PE, SC