May 12, 2021

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Secretary of the DRNA defends the closure of the alternate emergency route for residents of Punta Jacinto

The secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), Rafael Machargo Maldonado defended the agency's decision to keep the alleged sole alternate exit access closed, in In the event of an emergency, which residents of Punta Jacinto have, in Guánica .

However, he pointed out that, in the event of an emergency that renders the PR-333 highway, the main access to the sector, impassable, a gate located at the entrance to the Camino de Ballenas whose access is requested by residents of the area as an escape route, would be reopened.

“When emergency events have arisen, the DRNA, together with the emergency managers, They have used the forest area as an evacuation and transit route for the local community, as was done during the passage of Hurricane Georges the January 6 earthquake; or in the event that a seismic or atmospheric event occurs that warrants it, "said the head of the agency in written statements.

Neighbors from the community contacted El Nuevo Día to report the closing of a gate at the end of a road that crosses the Guánica State Forest (Dry Forest) known as Camino de Ballenas and that has been used in the past by the residents of the area as an exit route towards the PR-334 highway. The complaint is made at a time when seismic activity in the area has increased.

In fact, during the January earthquakes, the main access road to the community, the PR-333 highway, was partially closed due to landslides in the area.

Machargo Maldonado, in written statements, maintained that the gates are kept precisely to protect the forest, but that they can be reopened in the event of an emergency.

Evacuation of the area is indicated on the eviction maps. Both the evacuation route and the assembly area, in the event of a tsunami, are outside the grounds of the gate of the Camino de Ballenas. With the situation of recent days, it is important that residents are oriented as to what to do in an emergency situation and what is the tsunami eviction route and the place of assembly. The DRNA is in direct communication with the Emergency Management agencies to attend to any situation that may occur, "added the head of the agency.

" The Department is in the greatest disposition to collaborate with the other agencies, in guiding the community in relation to what they should do in an emergency situation in the area, "he concluded.

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