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Response and Recovery

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 30, 2017) – Puerto Rico is on a long road to recovery since Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc more than two months ago. The Category 5 storm left millions on the island without power or clean drinking water. Half of its residents are still in the dark today.

On Tuesday night, UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity partnered with the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to host a panel discussion on the ongoing response and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

Included in the discussion was UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez, along with DHSES Commissioner Roger Parrino and FEMA Regional Administrator for Region II John Rabin. It was moderated by CEHC Dean Robert Griffin.

The two-hour event, which was open to the University community, included an opportunity for attendees to ask questions following the discussion. It was held in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

Rodríguez, a native of Puerto Rico, spoke of the truly catastrophic destruction Hurricane Maria has left behind. To put the crisis into perspective, he said it took him more than two weeks to get in touch with family members on the island who had no way to communicate after losing both landline and cell phone service.

Parrino and Rabin offered their own insight on state and federal recovery efforts – with all three agreeing that Puerto Rico, a United States territory, is facing a humanitarian crisis.

 “As a result of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s entire system became overwhelmed,” said Rodríguez during the discussion. “With largely no electricity, no communication services and no way to move from one area to another, the dependence on local officials to provide first response was not going to happen. The entire island was at a standstill because of the catastrophe of this hurricane.”

It was also announced during the discussion that SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson is convening a working group that will look system-wide at ways to support rebuilding and revitalization efforts on the island informed by and in partnership with Puerto Rican education, governmental and non-governmental entities. President Rodríguez will be co-chairing the group with SUNY Maritime President Michael Alfultis.

More details on the working group are expected to be announced soon.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.