Disaster management in Hurricane Maria : voices from the agriculture sector in Puerto Rico
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In September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island territory of the United States, making a significant and lasting impact on the island. The hurricane severely affected the well-being, livelihoods and self-sufficiency of the people with its impact on the agriculture sector. Because of its unique location, Puerto Rico is prone to hurricanes and has a rich history of experiences with these storms, yet the devastation Maria ensued was of a different proportion. Vulnerabilities on the island including financial struggles and weak infrastructure had been present in Puerto Rico leading up to Hurricane Maria. Recovering from the week prior Hurricane Irma, preparation time and resources were limited for Hurricane Maria. The existing risk factors meeting an immensely powerful category 4 hurricane created long-term losses and extended recovery for the agriculture sector of Puerto Rico. This goal of this study to explore perspectives on the impact and subsequent disaster management of Hurricane Maria on the agriculture sector in Puerto Rico as executed by various key actors involved, from local efforts and NGOs, to government interventions. It is by deconstructing perceptions on disaster relief efforts, particularly from the point of view of local farmers in Puerto Rico, that disaster management efforts during Hurricane Maria are understood. Attitudes about future climate events are another key element of this study along with new movements in agriculture in Puerto Rico. Perspectives on preparatory measures, loss, recovery efforts, climate change and the future of agriculture in Puerto Rico are highlights in this study.