Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip over global navigation links
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


From Cut-Off to Connected: HHS and the U.S. Army Work together to protect health in Utuado, Puerto Rico following a landslide

Author: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/7/2017 10:32:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

A small community near the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico has been hit by back-to-back disasters. First came Hurricane Irma, then Hurricane Maria, and then came the landslides that cut the community off from the rest of Puerto Rico. The 39 families who live there had no way to reach the outside. They were left without power or access to medical care.

Puerto Rican medical providers were worried. Nobody had heard from these people and there wasn’t a good way to reach them. The Puerto Rican medical providers, who were already working with partners from HHS and the U.S. Army, shared their concerns.

Responder and Helicopter in Utuado 

Understanding that the community needed help quickly, Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) from HHS and U.S. Army Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams worked together to organize a combined mission to reach the 148 residents of the community. On September 30, the DMAT and USAR teams flew into the community and launched an agile response.

DMATs and USAR prep for mission to Utuado 

Once on the ground, the teams worked together to assess the health and well-being of the people; provide food, water and medications; and offered to evacuate people as needed. The teams worked with people in the community to create a patient list. DMAT personnel provided medical care to patients and people with chronic conditions. They also provided medication to the people with chronic conditions so that they could stay healthy after the responders left the community.

In the end, none of the community members wanted or needed to be evacuated. But the community was relieved to get the medical care it needed and the kids really loved checking out the helicopter.

Responders with Utuado community members 


Thanks ARMY

Appreciate seeing JOB DONE!
10/12/2017 9:41:35 AM

Great work!

Thank you for all your diligence and assistance in PR.
10/16/2017 1:29:18 PM


there are so many small communities in the mountains that can't be easily reached because of the hurricane damage. I know, I used to live in one of them: Barrio Real Anon above Coto Laurel. I pray for their help & recovery. David Swenson Ephrata, Pa.
10/18/2017 9:41:48 AM

Add Comments:

This is a moderated blog-we will review all comments before posting them. To learn more, please see ASPR Blog and Social Media Comments.


Please validate the following expression by entering the correct numeric value.
Question: What is two - one ?