SPCMSC Hosted Meeting on USGS Puerto Rico Hazards Resources Across Multiple Centers and Mission Areas

Release Date:

Coastal Change Hazards researchers Dr. Legna Torres-Garcia and Dr. Donya Frank-Gilchrist of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) organized a joint meeting with principal investigators currently conducting hazards-related projects in Puerto Rico. 

A map of Puerto Rico with white lines delineating city boundaries

Scientists at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) are initiating a project entitled “Coastal Vulnerability Assessments in Puerto Rico: focused stakeholder engagement to foster equity and inclusion.” The aim is to connect resources and tools for assessing coastal change hazards from the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program to relevant stakeholders and coastal communities in Puerto Rico. White lines on the map delineate town boundaries. The two blue shaded regions highlight the two locations of interest for stakeholder engagement efforts: San Juan and Mayagüez. (Source: Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Earthstart Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, AeroGRID, IGN, and the GIS Community.)

Multiple USGS centers and mission areas gathered to provide input as a part of a new project that will assess coastal vulnerabilities in Puerto Rico. The project, funded by the USGS Risk Community of Practice, and led by Dr. Legna Torres-Garcia and Dr. Donya Frank-Gilchrist of SPCMSC, will connect tools from existing USGS projects investigating coastal hazards to relevant stakeholders and underrepresented communities in Puerto Rico through a focused stakeholder engagement process. The first phase was to facilitate a joint meeting among USGS principal investigators actively conducting hazards-related research projects in Puerto Rico, primarily those funded by the FY18 Hurricane and Wildfire Supplemental Team after Hurricane Maria. Five lightning talks were presented from scientists in the Ecosystems, Natural Hazards (Coastal, Earthquakes and Landslides programs) and Water Resources mission areas. Following the lightning talks, the scientists were divided into six breakout rooms to facilitate small group discussions. Many participants remarked at the benefits of facilitating further communication across programs and mission areas to enable better coordination of scientific efforts in the future – benefits that extend far beyond the potential collaborative work on Puerto Rico hazards. The information gathered from this meeting will be analyzed and compiled into a database of USGS resources for Puerto Rico. The next phase of the project will be to establish connections with relevant stakeholders to better understand their critical needs and share the USGS tools that are available in Puerto Rico to help citizens better prepare for, mitigate, and recover from future natural hazards.