#HurricaneMaría lands in Puerto Rico during National Estuary Week.
The San Juan Bay Estuary Program went on a scouting field trip to evaluate the impacts of Hurricane María to the San Juan Bay Estuary ecosystems and the infrastructure in the area. In this scouting we found the Estuary devastated. The first recruitment effort for reconstruction work post Maria opportunity is posted in our online portal and volunteers are encouraged to message [email protected] to get involved in the efforts.
San Juan Bay Estuary Program met with other community organizations (Bosque Modelo, Harimau Conservation, Instituto del Karso) to draft a policy briefing for members of the U.S. congress to understand the impact of the hurricane in ecosystems and how the federal government should consider these issues to grant the organizations a relief package for relief efforts.
7 days after Hurricane Maria, the San Juan Bay Estuary program visited Ocean Park to find the streets flooded. The SJBEP representatives documented challenges associated with street flooding simultaneously with wastewater exposure, due to urban infrastructure saturation after Hurricane María. This is what we refer to when climate change is mentioned; to vulnerable areas, loss of goods, diseases due to contact with dirty water. The SJBEP encouraged its followers to be part of the solution to these new challenges.
Executive Director Brenda Torres releases “Hurricane Maria: time to convert data into action” column on El Nuevo Dia. This column highlights the importance of taking action against hurricanes and climate change.
The SJBEP staff installed signs near Condado Lagoon, Ocean Park, Isla Verde and Vacía Talega, to warn users about water quality, and encourage them to take precautions in case of contact with contaminated water.
SJBEP staff took various media outlets on a field trip to see firsthand the impact that Hurricane Maria had on the estuary ecosystems. This trip resulted in an article published on the local newspaper Metro Puerto Rico. The title was Manglares: barrera protectora contra huracanes. The article covers the importance of the estuary as a natural barrier in case of natural hazards like hurricane María. It also resulted in coverage from local news stations WAPA and Telemundo.
The SJBEP started a new temporary weekly monitoring three weeks after hurricane Maria to test the water quality on different water bodies for fecal bacteria after Hurricane Maria. The monitoring activities were conducted on several points in beaches and coastal areas, including Vacía Talega, Pine Grove, Ocean Park, Laguna del Condado, Calle Nairn, Calle Serra y Calle Cervantes. Water quality results are being published every week and spread through social and print media, as can be seen in articles published by Metro Puerto Rico and Sin Comillas.
Executive Director, Brenda Torres, met with the new US-EPA Region 2 Administrator, Hon. Pete Lopez. He was taken on a scouting trip to the waters of the estuary to be able to assess the damage. His receptiveness towards the needs of environmental justice communities throughout the Island was a clear sign of hope for us, all.
SJBEP staff with the help of volunteers and community members worked at Jaime Benitez Park to remove vegetative material and prevent it from getting to the sewerage. This action helped improve the water flow toward the sewage, therefore preventing flooding and public health problems. This activity resulted coverage from the local newspapers Metro Puerto Rico (in an article called Estuario redobla esfuerzos tras el paso del Huracán María) and El Vocero (in an article titled Renace el Estuario de la Bahía de San Juan). Both highlighted SJBEP’s new initiative called Estuario Revive, where weekly monitoring of water quality, removal of debris and community support will take the center stage to help communities recover after the direct hit of Hurricane Maria on the island. h
The SJBEP created an alliance with the Instituto de Cultura to take our Cine del Estuario on the road (Cine Rodante) and bring happiness to communities that were severely affected by Hurricane Maria. Cine del Estuario went to the community of Cantera on October 25th and Piñones on November 1st. Additionally, Sundays starting on October 22nd, the Cine del Estuario is projecting a movie on the Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) in San Juan. There have been 17 movie showings so far with over 600 people attending the events.
Rubén Sánchez interviewed SJBEP executive director Brenda Torres Barreto for his radio show on WKAQ 580 AM. Torres provided information to the public about the impact to the system of lagoons and channels in the metropolitan area due to Hurricane Maria. She also talked about the projects for the revitalization of the estuary and urged the listeners to join the SJBEP with activities related to monitoring of ecosystem quality, community support and infrastructure.
SJBEP conducted a sand dune restoration activity at Ocean Park beach. Here, volunteers and community members collaborated with SJBEP staff as part as an effort to reforest sand dunes by planting coastal species that help trap sand and improve biodiversity.
Staff coordinated debris removal and community cleanup activities from October 31 til November 4 at Caño Martín Peña’s Las Monjas neighborhood in coordination with Proyecto ENLACE. This effort will help clear the community from hazardous waste and provide a safe, clean space to live. 65 trucks of debris were removed the site.
A campaign was created by two residents and friends of the lagoon to increase awareness on the importance of this natural reserve and its ecosystems. Funds from the campaign will help restore its ecosystems and economically revitalize the Lagoon.
SJBEP, EPA and Centro Cultural de Caimito meets with community members and workers to coordinate debris clean up and household hazardous waste to prevent them from getting to the waste.
The SJBEP presented the critical situation of the water quality in the estuary. This radio show with Jay Fonseca was broadcasted on television, Facebook live and radio.
Weekly water monitoring quality continues. The quality of water in the estuary backtracks, and El Nuevo Día covers this in their paper.
Help for the Estuary of San Juan Bay Video is Released by El Nuevo Día.
Give Power awards a salt water filter to clean water.
The San Juan Bay Estuary and Nuestra Escuela in Loíza joined forces to empower their student community and the residents of Loíza. As part of the #ApoyoComunitario of our #EstuarioRevive campaign, the Estuary Program provides drinking water utilizing the filter provided by Give Power. This activity made the front page of El Nuevo Dia. A week later, on December 1, 2017, another demonstration was done for an interview with WAPA TV.
The San Juan Bay Estuary Program visits Centro Sor Isolina Ferre to provide them with 50 water filters and a solar battery, Goal Zero, to support their operations, while the power is restored in the mountains of the metropolitan region.
A debris clean up was performed on December 4-7 in Caimito with around 10 volunteers and 25 trucks of debris were picked up from the community. A great project with the support of Centro Cultural de Caimito, Foundation for Puerto Rico, EPA, Cuerpo de Bomberos de Puerto Rico partners. The EPA collaborated by designating an area to collect household hazardous materials such as small electronics, oil, paint, and cleaning supplies.
A debris clean up was performed on December 11-13 in Juana Matos community to remove vegetation debris from La Cienaga las Cucharillas. It is important that this habitat is restored because it serves as a sponge when there are floods in the area. Collaboration with the Foundation for Puerto Rico, Cuerpo de Bomberos and Corredor del Yaguazo was key to be able to restore the area.