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After Maria, “Radio Was the Only Constant Presence,” Says FEMA’s Centeno

Very complimentary of broadcasters’ efforts after the 2017 hurricanes

Some kind words about radio and its role in emergencies from FEMA’s Manny Centeno.

Homeland Security Today recently profiled Centeno, who leads the National Public Warning System, Primary Entry Point project within the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, Program Management Office.

HSToday Editor at Large Rich Cooper interviewed Centeno to learn about his experiences helping Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands recover from the double whammy of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.

According to the profile, Centeno spent much of his life in the Virgin Islands and even “operated radio stations and emergency repeater sites in St. Croix and St. Thomas” during the time that Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn struck the area in 1989 and 1995, respectively. However, he told Cooper that he “had never seen two monster storms hit twice within such a short period of time” as with Irma and Maria.

In the article, Centeno was very complimentary of local radio broadcasters as their “best partner in this experience.” He also observed, “Sometimes legacy technology works better in these types of scenarios.”

This was especially true in this case, Centeno said, “Radio was the only constant presence. It provided information on food, water, medicine, shelter and available services. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are radiocentric communities because that is what residents of these two territories depend upon. It’s part of the culture.”

Centeno also noted the importance of the 10,000 battery-operated radios provided by National Association of Broadcasters and the Florida Association of Broadcasters.

Read the full interview online here.

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