Skip to Content

Post-Maria Puerto Rico: Defining Resilient Recovery (ABX 2018)

This ABX 2018 presentation examined the state of recovery in Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria and was a co-presentation by BSA’s Global Practice Network and the Committee on Resilient Environments (CORE).

These catastrophic storms highlighted the long-term challenges of this Caribbean island at the frontlines of a changing climate. "The initial disaster response exposed systems and processes that – while often not ideal – must be recognized and examined for their potential to influence long-term recovery." 

Dave Hampton, Principal of re:ground LLC resiliency strategies and Co-Chair of BSA CORE provided context with examples from other disasters  and responses such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake and post-Maria Dominica. He challenged participants to plan for more resilient future recoveries with the following framing questions: 

  • First responders: Who were the they? Who should they have been? Why did they respond? Can / should we build on this?
  • Systems: What systems were disrupted? What systems exist now?
  • Recovery defined: What is recovery? From what? For whom? And who decides? Who will pay for it?
  • Recovery (re)defined: How much money do you have? How much do you need? For what? How will money be translated into what is truly needed? Why should others make the investment?
  • Impact of design professionals: What do we think we’re good at? What are we really good at? Which skills are needed?

Ramón Bueno, who has studied the links between climate change impacts and societal and economic conditions, explored resilience as an equitable balance of social, environmental, and economic concerns, informed by the best climate science available. 

Pedro Sifre, Senior Principal of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, who documented conditions on the ground in 2018, presented historical context such as the cumulative effect of recurring hurricanes and socio-political implications, as well as the the current state of recovery.

This event expanded on 'Post Maria Puerto Rico: A Personal Look at Recovery and Resilience', Feb. 23, 2018.