July 23-26, 2019, members of NIST’s Hurricane Maria study team met individually with high-level officials from seven Puerto Rico government departments and agencies in San Juan. The sessions were aimed at explaining NIST’s multiple projects under the Hurricane Maria program and describing the range of information being requested by NIST. Erica Kuligowski, leader of the NIST program, headed the 5-member team which met with: Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy Rivera, Education Secretary Eligio Hernandez Perez, Health Secretary Rafael Rodriguez-Mercado, Transportation and Public Works Secretary Carlos Contreras Aponte, Telecommunications Regulatory Board President Sandra Torres Lopez, Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency Deputy Director Karla Fraguada, and Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority Vice President of Strategic and Corporate Planning Ryan Arrieta. The NIST team also met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other U.S. government officials during the visit to San Juan. NIST expects to return later this summer to meet with officials from other agencies.
- On May 1, 2019, a contract for boundary layer wind tunnel testing was awarded to the University of Florida. This contract will provide reduced-scale simulation of wind flow to characterize the influence of topography on wind speeds in Puerto Rico and to evaluate the resulting wind effects on buildings during Hurricane Maria.
- On April 23, 2019, a contract for translation and interpretation support services was awarded to the woman-owned small business Translating Services, Inc. This contract will support the translation and interpretation needs for the Hurricane Maria Program.
- On February 26, 2019, leaders of the NIST Hurricane Maria Program provided a briefing to Hon. Manuel Laboy, Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC) and Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO), along with Dereck Negron Torres (Policy Advisor, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration) and Amy Rendon (Chief of Staff/Senior Advisor, Puerto Rico Dept. of Commerce). The briefing, which took place at the Department of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C., described NIST's plans and recent progress in studying the impacts of the September 2017 hurricane on Puerto Rico and its people. NIST aims to recommend improvements to building codes, standards and practices to make communities across the U.S. more resilient to hurricanes and other hazards.
- On February 26, 2019, a contract for technical writing and graphic visualization support was awarded to the woman-owned small business, CATMEDIA. This contract will support the documentation and publication needs for the Hurricane Maria Program.
- On February 21, 2019, the Hurricane Maria team welcomed its newest member: Ms. Camila Espina. Within the Hurricane Maria Program, Ms. Espina is involved in a project that focuses on investigating the role of emergency communications (among other factors) in public response for those under imminent threat from Hurricane Maria. Ms. Espina is a Mass Communication Ph.D. candidate from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. She holds a Master of Arts in Media Studies from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and a Bachelor of Arts in Information and Journalism from the School of Public Communication at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- On February 8, 2019, a contract to perform analysis of the wind field in Hurricane Maria was awarded to Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA). This contract will provide wind data analysis and hurricane wind field modeling to reconstruct the surface-level winds in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, including consideration of topographic effects, in support of the Hazard Characterization Project within the Hurricane Maria Program.
- On September 6, 2018, and Friday, September 7, 2018, NIST and the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health held an open meeting to discuss the state-of-the-practice in post-disaster field data collection methods, including sampling methodologies across multiple disciplines. The agenda for the meeting can be found here: Sampling Methods Meeting Agenda .
- On August 30, 2018, NIST hosted their annual meeting with the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee. The objectives of the meeting included a review of the progress on the NCST investigation of Hurricane Maria’s effects on Puerto Rico. More information about the meeting can be found here: August 30, 2018, NCSTAC Meeting.
- On August 14th and 15th, 2018, the Engineering Laboratory at NIST, Gaithersburg, hosted a symposium featuring the 2016 Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program recipients. These 12 recipients of disaster resilience research grants totaling just over $6 million convened to share insights and findings based on the research topics funded under the 2016-NIST-DR-01. The following links provide access to the Keynote Presentation, Disaster and Failure Studies Overview, and the NCST Technical Investigation of Hurricane Maria and its Impacts on Puerto Rico Overview.
- On May 16, 2018, NIST published a press release to announce the study of Hurricane Maria's impact on Puerto Rico by the National Construction Safety Team. The press release can be found here: NIST Launches Study of Hurricane Maria’s Impact on Puerto Rico.
- On May 16, 2018, NIST held a meeting open to the public with the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee to discuss NIST's objectives and planned deployment for the study of Hurricane Maria's impact on Puerto Rico. The presentations made to the Committee can be found here: May 16, 2018, NCSTAC Meeting Presentations.
- On February 28, 2018, NIST announced via the Federal Register that the agency is investigating the effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico using its authority under the National Construction Safety Team Act. NIST reviewed preliminary observations from a December 2017 reconnaissance deployment to Puerto Rico which resulted in a cohesive plan to characterize: (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. The complete notice can be found here.