HDR is supporting the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division in the ongoing recovery efforts following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. Evaluating the island’s severely damaged transportation infrastructure, HDR is responsible for assessing damage and generating reports for 81 storm-impacted sites on the eastern third of the island, including urban areas like San Juan, remote mountainous regions and sprawling national forests.

An HDR team member surveys damage on the island of Puerto Rico.

The project includes evaluations of vehicular and pedestrian bridges, roadways and culverts, many of which were damaged or destroyed when the powerful Category 4 struck the island on Sept. 20, 2017, triggering more than 40,000 landslides. The storm is blamed for an estimated $90 billion in damage and many lives lost.

With specialists in emergency response and recovery, HDR is well prepared to help communities take stock after a disaster and begin the rebuilding process. An HDR team of 25 worked on site from late April through May, with dozens more supporting the effort remotely. The project, which continues with analysis of the data collected, involves the collaboration of more than 30 HDR offices across four time zones.

The HDR team in Puerto Rico. The group is creating damage reports for 81 storm-damaged areas on the island.

Project manager Robert Victor, who directs the team’s efforts and will oversee their continued work, said the team felt a sense of connection to the communities they worked in. “Our people relish the opportunity to do good through this project,” he said. “We realize the very human element to what we’re doing. Helping Puerto Rico recover is a task we feel privileged to undertake.”

The team’s assessments of the storm-related damage will be used to generate Damage, Description and Dimension reports for the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division to submit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September. The team is also producing geotechnical, environmental and hydraulics reports for each site, followed by scopes of work. The reports will support ongoing efforts to secure funding for Puerto Rico’s continued recovery.