SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Federal/State Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) teams are on the ground today in several municipalities to evaluate the extent and type of damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene through Puerto Rico. On August 22, 2011 President Obama signed a federal emergency declaration, which funds the costs for conducting protective measures undertaken during the emergency.
"We have our teams surveying damages to homes and infrastructure in 22 municipalities in order to corroborate damages and have an accurate view of the emergency situation," explained Justo Hernandez, FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer. "We are working along with our State and local government partners to visit their communities. FEMA will be doing this PDA process for as long as the Government of Puerto Rico requests our support."
The first group of municipalities that will be visited today is: Humacao, Naguabo, Ceiba, Fajardo, Luquillo, Loiza, Carolina, Caguas, Cidra, Cayey, Comerio, Aguas Buenas, Canóvanas, Gurabo, Juncos, Maunabo, San Lorenzo, Yauco, Orocovis, Villalba, Ponce, and Peñuelas.
Typically, a PDA team is composed of officials from FEMA, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, and municipal government agencies. Other State and Federal agencies and voluntary relief organizations may also participate, as needed.
Following a disaster incident, FEMA-State PDA teams are deployed to identify the amount and type of damages in a community, including its public infrastructure, utilities, homes, personal property, and vehicles. This process is a necessary step a Governor takes before deciding whether to request a major disaster declaration from the President of the United States.
As the hurricane season continues, FEMA officials recommend residents to visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes or www.listo.gov for tips on emergency planning, getting an emergency kit and having a family communications plan.
FEMA's mission to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.