Responding to a Disaster: How USAGov Helped Shape the Digital Response in Puerto Rico

Tuesday, January 09, 2018 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM ET

Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20, 2017, devastating Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These events, coupled with hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and wildfires in California, made five simultaneous natural disasters that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would need to address. Within a few weeks, thousands of federal volunteers from across the country were deployed to the Joint Field Office (JFO) in San Juan.

USAGov, which has been designated as the official channel of disaster communications for the federal government, supported efforts by building a digital response team in Washington, but also by sending a bilingual digital team member to Puerto Rico. The task included assisting the External Affairs team of the Joint Information Center with bolstering their digital capabilities.

A team made up of FEMA reservists, FEMA digital communications experts, federal government bilingual communicators, and local hires tackled emergency response and recovery efforts, which included bolstering their digital capabilities and a number of tactics for reaching survivors with critical information

In this Q&A you’ll learn about:

  • Digital tactics and tools FEMA and USAGov employed to help survivors
  • Challenges and successes of the FEMA Puerto Rico digital team
  • What the Digital Comms Team is now prioritizing in Puerto Rico