Learning about Puerto Rico, not only about how it function throughout disaster cycle but also its community practice, living style, citizen participation, and the culture has been tremendously enriching. Today, the Practicum students were given the opportunity to attend and observe the NDPTC training and think critically about factors that hinder the element of success in the disaster management. Communication as one critical component was pointed as lacking not only during in time of disaster but has been an ongoing issue, partly due to the political dynamic. Furthermore, the priority-based in the decision-making process, particularly regarding resource distribution across municipalities (eg. after hurricane Maria), has always been seen as unjust. The NDPTC training provided both learning space and understanding more deeply the role of multiple stakeholders (and/or “whole community”) involved in disaster management, emphasizing on recovery.
Our visit to the University of Puerto Rico de Rio Piedras later that day was particularly special; we had the privilege to talk to Dr. Carmen Rodriguez and had her addressing issues around planning for disaster in Puerto Rico and other relevant planning projects. She was particularly emphasizing how imperative it is to understand context in decision-making process, the recommendation FEMA was looking for, and to my understanding, to iterate – clarifying, establishing roles and responsibilities, identifying constraints within which the decision is made and so on – is essential towards successful and effective implementation, especially to foster the recovery process in Puerto Rico. There is always room for improvement and people in Puerto Rico and even us, who are not directly impacted by disasters definitely have some takeaways from the hurricane event. Today’s session was indeed a huge perspective gains and feed on to my understanding of the context of leadership, governance, institutional barriers, planning, and collaboration in the context of disaster.