ERIC Number: EJ1167303
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Island in Crisis: Response to Puerto Rico
Zenere, Frank J.
Communique, v46 n5 p1, 21-22 Jan-Feb 2018
On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm packing winds of 185 miles per hour skirted the northern coast of Puerto Rico, leaving 1 million residents without electrical power. Schools were closed for 5 days, but a major calamity was narrowly avoided. Overall, residents were grateful for their good fortune, but the same could not be said for the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, where the storm destroyed 90% of the buildings and left 50% of the population homeless. Two weeks later, hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico with wind gusts of 150 miles per hour and widespread flooding. Maria was the strongest hurricane to strike the island in 80 years. One hundred percent of the island was without electricity; water from the ocean and swollen rivers inundated many communities; many roads were impassible due to downed trees; and a number of bridges were washed away, preventing access to residents who desperately needed basic supplies required for survival. Five days after Maria slammed Puerto Rico, author Frank J. Zenere, school psychologist and chair of the crisis management program in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and an Emeritus of the National Emergency Assistance Team was contacted by a clinical psychologist he met 2 months earlier at a training. The psychologist worked closely with a mental health professional on the island, who serves as an advisor to the Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico. This connection led to a conference call to discuss their concerns, identify needs and available resources, and plan for the reopening of schools. Near the end of an hour-long dialogue, Zenere volunteered to go to the island to provide further consultation, assist in providing technical assistance, conduct training for school mental health professionals, and offer recommendations for preparing to meet the short and long-term needs of students, their families, teachers, and support staff. Zenere writes that he believes following a natural disaster, immediate attention should be focused upon meeting the needs of the population including food, water, and shelter. After that the next important step in the recovery process is the reopening of schools. This article details Zenere's journey through the seven days he was there as he helped set the foundation for recovery efforts following this devastating natural disaster. He shares his thoughts on recovery assistance based on his experiences with numerous other natural disasters around the globe.
Descriptors: Natural Disasters, Emergency Programs, Mental Health, Psychologists, School Health Services, Student Needs, Family Needs, Educational Needs, Access to Education, Intervention, Coping
National Association of School Psychologists. 4340 East West Highway Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814. Tel: 301-657-0270; Fax: 301-657-0275; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.nasponline.org/publications/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Puerto Rico
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A