By 1st Lt. Chantel Baul
| 81st Readiness Division | Nov. 14, 2019
Major Gen. Kenneth Jones inspects a bathroom at one of the 81st’s facilities in Puerto Nuevo, which received substantial repairs after Hurricane Maria. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
Command Sgt. Major Levi Maynard inspects the faucet at one of the 81st’s facilities in Puerto Nuevo, which received substantial repairs after Hurricane Maria. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
Maintenance administrative supply technicians Emilio Corchado (blue) and Caesar Acosta (red) join Command Sgt. Major Levi Maynard and AMSA general supervisor Elmer Cruz for a candid photo while discussing progress made to the facility since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
Command Sgt. Maj. Levi Maynard of the 81st Readiness Division inspects a new air conditioning unit atop the Cpt. Pedro J. Parra Army Reserve Center in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The Parra building is one of several 81st RD facilities that were damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017. The 81st RD has been making repairs to ensure the safety and readiness of the tenant units who occupy the facilities. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
This 81st Readiness Division structure at the Cpt. Pedro J. Parra Army Reserve Center in Ponce, Puerto Rico, lost its roof and rollup garage doors to Hurricane Maria's strong winds. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
Built between the 1940s and 1950s, the dining facility at the Cpt. Pedro J. Parra Army Reserve Center received some roof damage during Hurricane Maria. A complete redesign will begin in fiscal year 2020. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
New generators were installed at various 81st Readiness Division facilities throughout Puerto Rico to improve readiness and resiliency in the event of another natural disaster. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
The Equipment Concentration Site warehouse at Lt. Col. Hernean G. Pasquera Army Reserve Center in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, received a new roof made of a special weather-resistant material to improve resilience in the event of another hurricane. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
The Equipment Concentration Site warehouse at Lt. Col. Hernean G. Pasquera Army Reserve Center in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, underwent a complete remodel after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
Hurricane Maria destroyed many of the light poles at the Pvt. 1st Class Santos Cruz Aviles Army Reserve Center in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The 81st Readiness Division has replaced them with new solar-power poles, promoting sustainability. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
Command Sgt. Major Levi Maynard and Area Maintenance Support Activity general supervisor Elmer Cruz inspect the new roll-up doors installed at the 81st’s AMSA shop in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. (Photo by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul)
The 81st Readiness Division commanding general Maj. Gen. Kenneth Jones and Command Sgt. Maj. Levi Maynard visited Puerto Rico to check on recovery progress made since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.
The hurricane caused island-wide devastation, including to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 12 sites outside Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
The 81st RD facilities suffered significant damages totaling more than $13 million. Since then, the command has completed about 90 percent to 95 percent of all priority-one projects, according to the 81st Regional Facility Operations Specialist Carlos Fuentes, in Puerto Rico.
The Director of Installation Support and Regional Engineer, Col. Victor Green, said the 81st RD commander set priorities for the repairs, which are essential to the life, health and safety of troops who work there. Priority of repairs are roofs; heating, ventilation and air conditioning units; and shop roller doors.
Facilities that took the most brutal beatings from Maria have received or will receive in FY20 new roofs made from a special weather-resistant material, and they have received brand new energy-efficient HVACs, many of which were reaching the end of their lifecycle, according to Green. Beyond that, the Area Maintenance Support Activity shop and other maintenance-like facilities have received new hurricane-resistant roll-up doors and destroyed light poles were replaced with brand new solar panel poles, improving resiliency and sustainability.
According to Fuentes, the process for getting repairs after Maria is meticulous, going from the initial inspection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) all the way through the final approval via the Charleston District from USACE, in coordination with the 81st RD Directorate of Public Works.
“The repair timeline depends on the extent of the damage and what needs to be done,” Green explained. “Time will tell, but the goal is to strengthen these facilities and make them more resilient to withstand another natural-made or man-made emergency.”
The 81st has a team of Department of the Army civilians and military technicians in Puerto Rico who maintain the facilities, repair unit equipment, and provides personnel support to 1st Mission Support Command Soldiers and Families, which is headquartered on Fort Buchanan. The 81st RD does not have any Soldiers assigned in Puerto Rico, but rather maintains the facilities for its tenant units from the 1st Mission Support Command and the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and active duty Army, Marine Corps and Navy service members. Fort Buchanan also serves 150,000 Army Reserve retirees.
In total, the 1st MSC has about 5,000 Soldiers throughout the island who need reliable facilities to train in during battle assemblies throughout the year to ensure readiness. Though the 1st MSC does not fall within the 81st RD command, the 81st is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of those facilities to ensure that training requirements are met and equipment is properly housed, according to leadership.
“Right now, we’re at the peak of hurricane season, so we’ve shifted priorities to make sure that the Army Reserve is capable of having the critical equipment up and running that can support the delivery of fuel to our reserve centers if they lose power, because the infrastructure here is very weak. . . So, the sustainability of our Army Reserve Centers (and) Fort Buchanan is critical to the combat readiness of our forces,” Jones explained.
“Our Army Reserve centers are (like) micro-military installations that service hundreds of Soldiers and their Families to build readiness for the Army Reserve,” said Jones, which goes in line with USAR commander Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey’s vision for the Army Reserve.