Response and Recovery after Maria: Lessons for Disaster Law and Policy
Hurricane Maria had a devastating impact on Puerto Rico. The federal response to Maria was slow, leaving much of the population without basic necessities for extended periods. Lives were lost as a result. The federal government failed to rise to the challenges posed by logistic difficulties and strained agency resources due to preceding disasters. The response was hindered by unrealistic planning, by Puerto Rico’s lack of political power in Washington, and by presidential indifference. In the end, despite its much greater needs, Puerto Rico received assistance much more slowly than Houston. This article analyzes the reasons for the flawed response and proposes improvements in future disaster policy. Like Katrina, Maria is a story of how systems failed just when they were most needed by our most vulnerable citizens.