ADA National Network Learning Session: One year after Hurricane Maria, how is Puerto Rico faring and how are they planning for the next disaster?

ADA National Network Learning Session: One year after Hurricane Maria, how is Puerto Rico faring and how are they planning for the next disaster?

11th October, 2018

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico about one year ago. In this presentation, members of the Puerto Rico Disability Community Relief Network (PRDCRN) will review the impact of the hurricane on people with disabilities and how this experience moved them to create a disability network that is involved in disaster planning, response, and recovery issues for people with disabilities in the future.

Learning objectives:

  • Discuss what happened during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
  • Identify the impact the hurricane had on people with disabilities in PR and the lacking response and recovery efforts by state and federal governments.
  • Learn the efforts the PRDCRN conducted during the immediate aftermath of the hurricane and continue to carry out one year later to improve inclusive emergency preparedness in Puerto Rico.


Betzaida Ramos is a licensed social worker in Puerto Rico with 20 years of experience with socially marginalized populations including children, adolescents, adults and people with disabilities. She has been the Executive Director of Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente (MAVI for its spanish acronym), the largest independent living center in the Caribbean that serves over 2,000 people with disabilities. Since hurricane Maria, Mrs. Ramos has been actively participating with the response, recovery and mitigation efforts of Puerto Rico by participating in many work groups in Puerto Rico and the US.

Dr. Carol Salas Pagan has been the Director of the Puerto Rico University Center for Excellence in Education, Research and Service on Developmental Disabilities (PR/UCEDD)since November 2015. Before she was the Associated Director for almost 3 years. A Dr in Clinical Psychology and previously a PR/UCEDD trainee she also graduate from the National Leadership Institute. She represents the PR/UCEDD in the Multicultural Council and on AIDDs National Diversity Advisory Committee. Currently she is faculty of the Graduate School of Public Health of the Medical Sciences Campus, of the UPR. She is also an appointed member on the Puerto Rico Protection and Advocacy office board and member of the PR-DD Council. Locally Dr. Salas is an active member in diverse Advisory Councils and boards of nonprofit organizations for the Protection, Advocacy and independent living movement for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, and violence against women.

Myrainne Z. Roa-Mendez is the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Developmental Disabilities Council. She holds a degree in Political Science and a Juris Doctor. Myrainne is graduate of the Leadership Institute for Cultural Diversity, Cultural, and Linguistic Competence from Georgetown University and a founding Member of the Disabilities Community Relief Network (PRDCRN). Through her work at the PRDCRN, she is promoting the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of emergency management. She is also supporting systems change with the creation and implementation of a training curriculum, at all levels, on emergency management for people with disabilities.