This page presents progress in NIST’s study of Hurricane Maria’s effects on Puerto Rico, including a summary of key tasks that have been completed, along with links to resources where more details can be found. As described below, these resources include a progress report, published in both Spanish and English, as well as presentations by the NIST team to the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Advisory Committee.
Highlights of tasks completed by the NIST team and supporting contractors include:
- Wind tunnel testing to evaluate the effects of Puerto Rico’s mountainous topography on local wind speeds and on the resulting wind loads experienced by selected critical buildings.
- Improvements to the hurricane wind-field model to provide best estimates of peak gust wind speeds across Puerto Rico, incorporating additional surface-level meteorological observations and using an improved process to optimize the model fit.
- Surveys and interviews on emergency communications and public response, including surveys of more than 1,500 households, follow-up interviews with 60 households, and interviews with 35 professionals who provided emergency communications to the public, to deepen the understanding of emergency message content, how the public receives weather watch and warning information, and what leads to protective action decisions.
- Site visits, staff interviews, and document review for 5 hospitals and 5 shelters for evaluation of building performance, including damage sustained and impacts on function and operation.
- Interviews with 30 hospital staff and 410 next-of-kin to better understand how damaged buildings and failures in supporting infrastructure, as well as social-environmental conditions, played a role in injuries and deaths following Hurricane Maria.
- Surveys of more than 300 schools and 16 hospitals on impacts to and recovery of social functions associated with education and healthcare organizations.
- Surveys of more than 450 small and medium-sized businesses (in manufacturing, retail, and service sectors) and interviews with 30 shipping and transportation representatives on preparedness, impacts, and post-hurricane recovery.
As reported in a September 2023 presentation to the NCST Advisory Committee, most data collection for the Hurricane Maria Program is now completed, and data analysis is well underway. Important data collection continues for projects focused on recovery of schools, hospitals, and power, water and transportation infrastructure. Following the completion of data analysis, the NIST team will publish draft reports with findings and recommendations for public comment. Beyond publishing reports, NIST will follow through on its long-term commitment to promote the implementation of its recommendations for improved codes, standards and practices.
After Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico on September 18, 2022, NIST concluded that collecting information about that event could strengthen its findings and recommendations related to Hurricane Maria, as well as providing insights on the long-term recovery of infrastructure systems and the critical social functions provided by schools and hospitals. Extension of the Hurricane Maria Program to consider impacts of Hurricane Fiona is being supported by funds appropriated through the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed by Congress in December 2022. An update on Hurricane Fiona was presented to the NCST Advisory Committee in June 2023.
In January 2021, NIST published a report summarizing progress in its multi-year study of Hurricane Maria’s impacts on Puerto Rico and subsequent recovery processes. Further details are provided at the following links:
Advisory Committee Updates
NIST provides regular updates on its Hurricane Maria projects to the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee. The following is a listing of presentations to the NCST Advisory Committee that provide details on the preliminary reconnaissance, plans, and progress of the Hurricane Maria Program. Links to the full presentations are provided.
- September 7, 2023: Meeting Agenda and Presentations / Meeting Video
- June 14, 2023: Meeting Agenda and Presentations / Meeting Video
- October 19, 2022: Meeting Agenda and Presentations / Meeting Video
- June 8-9, 2022: Meeting Agenda and Presentations / Meeting Video
- November 8, 2021: Meeting Agenda and Presentations / Meeting Video
- June 10-11, 2021: Meeting Agenda and Presentations
- October 23, 2020: Meeting Agenda and Presentations
- June 30, 2020: Meeting Agenda and Presentations
- September 6, 2019: Meeting Agenda and Presentations
- August 18, 2018: Meeting Agenda and Presentations
- May 16, 2018: Meeting Agenda and Presentations
- February 20, 2018: Meeting Agenda and Presentations