In the report, the agency claims that it miscalculated the impact Hurricane Maria would have on Puerto Rico and its “insufficiently maintained infrastructure.” The report also details that FEMA’s planning was insufficient and that it did not prepare appropriately for multiple disasters in such a short time span, as Hurricane Maria came on the heels of several other major hurricanes.
“By capturing the insights gained from the previous hurricane season, this report, which is focused only on the efforts of DHS and FEMA, provides a transformative roadmap for how we respond to future catastrophic incidents in support of states, tribes, and territories,” Nielsen said in a statement. “No two disasters are alike and each requires the first responders on the ground, as well as Federal support, to adapt to the unique circumstances and needs in real-time.”
“With every response or recovery effort, we take with us lessons learned that help build a nation-wide culture of preparedness and shape the way FEMA and the emergency management community respond to and recover from future disasters,” she added. “2017 taught us that we need to further strengthen the Nation’s ability to rapidly stabilize critical lifelines. It also underscored the importance of enhancing logistics capabilities across the emergency management community.”
The government of Puerto Rico is investigating the death toll from the hurricane. Although the official estimate has been 64, a Harvard study from May estimated thousands were killed.