By Alana Calmi and Scott Ladd, Media Relations Staff
Nearly a week into their deployment to Puerto Rico, more than 70 Port Authority staffers with expertise in transportation, engineering and security are working diligently to help an island still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Maria get back on its feet.
The deployment includes members of the agency’s Aviation, Port and Engineering departments, as well as the Port Authority Police Department. This group traveled to Puerto Rico September 28-29, and most are scheduled to stay until October 13. As part of a mutual aid network responding to natural disasters, Port Authority officials were asked to share manpower and technical skills after the storm left Puerto Rico in ruins.
“You can’t help but be moved by the devastation the people of Puerto Rico have suffered,” said Steven Pawlak of the Office of Emergency Management, part of the Port Authority’s response team. “We’re doing everything we can, using whatever it takes to help our friends here restore some semblance of normalcy to their lives.”
Port Authority staffers are providing a range of hurricane repair support to airports and ports, including infrastructure condition assessments, restoration of building systems, site work and security. The teams have been instrumental in rebuilding and replacing damaged structures, electrical equipment and information systems.
For a visual account of the Port Authority’s efforts in Puerto Rico, follow this slideshow:
“Our team is completely committed to helping repair the airports and other facilities so heavily damaged by the hurricane,” said John Selden, Deputy General Manager of John F. Kennedy International Airport, from San Juan.
The extreme challenges confronting Port Authority volunteers mirrored those for residents and businesses across the island — severe shortages of water, food and fuel, power outages that continue to afflict most of the country, mobility issues and , insufficient housing. Morale has remained high, energized by productive collaboration with local officials Puerto Rican officials and the response from the Puerto Rican people.
“We hope that whatever assistance we are providing will get essential transportation facilities back up and running on a regular basis as soon as possible,” Selden said.