Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Learning from Hurricane Maria's Impacts on Puerto Rico: A Progress Report



Joseph Main, Maria K. Dillard, Erica D. Kuligowski, Benjamin Davis, Jazalyn D. Dukes, Kenneth W. Harrison, Jennifer Helgeson, Katherine J. Johnson, Marc L. Levitan, Judith Mitrani-Reiser, Scott J. Weaver, DongHun Yeo, Luis D. Bermúdez, Joel Cline, Thomas Kirsch


On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated much of Puerto Rico, damaging buildings that its communities relied upon for medical care, safety, communications, education, business, and more. To better understand failures in buildings and infrastructure as well as emergency communications - and to gain insights into how we can prevent and mitigate such extensive failures in the future - in 2018 the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched a multi-year effort. The NIST Hurricane Maria Program is investigating (1) the wind environment and technical conditions associated with deaths and injuries, (2) the performance of representative critical buildings, and designated safe areas in those buildings, including their dependence on lifelines, and (3) the performance of emergency communications systems and the public's response to such communications. These correspond to the three goals of a technical investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act (NCST Act). Under the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), authorized by the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act, NIST is also conducting a research study on the impacts to and recovery of (1) businesses and supply chains, (2) education and healthcare services, and (3) infrastructure systems that support the functioning of critical buildings and emergency communications. As complementary components of the NIST Hurricane Maria Program, the NCST technical investigation and the NWIRP research study are closely coordinated. This report explains in detail the rationale for launching this effort, the specific areas selected for investigation and study by an interdisciplinary team, and the approach that NIST is using - including building upon information gathered by others but also by conducting extensive original data collection and analyses. The report also summarizes progress to date.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1262
Report Number


Hurricane Maria, building performance, emergency communications, mortality, injuries, Puerto Rico, infrastructure, businesses, supply chains, hospitals, schools, shelters, recovery


Main, J. , Dillard, M. , Kuligowski, E. , Davis, B. , Dukes, J. , Harrison, K. , Helgeson, J. , Johnson, K. , Levitan, M. , Mitrani-Reiser, J. , Weaver, S. , Yeo, D. , , L. , Cline, J. and Kirsch, T. (2021), Learning from Hurricane Maria's Impacts on Puerto Rico: A Progress Report, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 30, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created January 18, 2021, Updated January 19, 2021