With many areas in Puerto Rico still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, officials recognize the need to rebuild their coastal communities to be more resilient to future hazard events. Sensitive ecosystems, including coral reefs and mangroves, provide critical storm protection but are vulnerable to land-based pollution from runoff during heavy rain events. Community members are concerned with both protecting the health of these sensitive ecosystems for future storm protection by reducing runoff and implementing additional green infrastructure techniques to enhance resilience.
NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management partnered with Puerto Rico Sea Grant and the coastal management program to deliver NOAA’s Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience training to communities interested in using green infrastructure techniques to prepare for future hazards. During the training, participants from government agencies, nonprofits, and academia shared project ideas for reducing pollution impacts to habitats, absorbing floodwaters in urban areas, and restoring natural areas along the coast for hazard protection. In addition, attendees heard from local experts and engaged in discussions on challenges and solutions.
Following the training, participants left with the goal of promoting green infrastructure throughout the island, a plan that includes working with FEMA to consider these techniques as a post-hurricane hazard-mitigation strategy. (2018)