EPA Urges Preparedness as Hurricane Season Begins; Advises on prevention, preparedness, and reporting requirements during Hazardous Weather Events
PUERTO RICO - As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues dedicated efforts to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands recover from 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the new Atlantic hurricane season kicked off on June 1. EPA is reminding people, businesses and state and local governments where they can find the best information on preparedness before hurricane force winds or storm flooding may occur.
“EPA’s response to natural disasters is one of the most important ways that we protect human health and the environment. Even as we continue our work to help Puerto Rico and the USVI continue to recover from Irma and Maria, we stand ready to assist should they be impacted by storms this hurricane season or any emergency, such as the recent and ongoing earthquakes,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA’s preparedness and rapid response teams in the Caribbean and across Region 2 stand ready to engage our partners in providing the necessary support to protect public health and the environment.”
EPA understands that effective emergency response and recovery is most successful when every person, community, business leader and government official is prepared. In addition, the agency is taking this opportunity to remind facility operators of their legal obligations to prevent, minimize and report chemical releases in order to fully protect people and the environment. EPA is also urging those who live in hurricane-prone areas, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, to take proactive steps now to be prepared for hurricane season.
EPA's hurricane website includes information for business operators on preventing and reporting chemical releases due to severe weather. Local governments and community agencies can find suggestions for preparing and protecting water and wastewater facilities. There is also detailed information for debris management planning, since storm debris can occur in enormous amounts that overwhelm local landfills, and can also present serious dangers to human health and the environment.
To aid facilities, EPA has posted specific information about release prevention and preparedness requirements and that clarifies reporting requirements, including exemptions. Unlike some natural disasters, the onset of a hurricane is predictable and allows for early preparations to lessen its effect on a facility. This information is available at: https://www.epa.gov/hurricanes.
To help individuals and families prepare for hurricane season, there are also resources available on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) web sites in English at www.Ready.gov and in Spanish at www.Listo.gov.
Should hurricanes strike, EPA plays a critical role in responding and in helping with long-term recovery. EPA has transitioned from emergency response to long-term recovery work with the overarching goal of helping Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands communities build capacity and regain their footing. EPA is actively working on a multitude of issues, including solid waste, drinking water in small rural communities, stormwater management and resiliency, septic tank replacement, brownfields and workforce development as well as coral reef preservation and protection. For more information about EPA’s response to hurricanes Maria and Irma, visit Hurricane Maria at https://www.epa.gov/hurricane-maria
EPA’s central hub for disaster and hurricane information is available at https://www.epa.gov/hurricanes.
For alerts from the National Weather service, visit https://www.weather.gov/alerts.