RENO, NV (KXNT) – Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Law Enforcement Rangers from Nevada are currently deployed to San Juan, Puerto Rico and are helping with relief and search and rescue efforts in the wake of the strongest hurricane to hit the Caribbean Island and U.S. territory in nearly a century.
Rangers Bill Hart from the Ely District and Paul Zohovetz of Fernley, who is assigned to the Carson City District, arrived in San Juan prior to Hurricane Maria, which blew ashore Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph. Maria destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island of 3.4 million people and turned some streets into raging rivers.
Hart and Zohovetz are among several other BLM officers nationally who were on a roster to assist with national emergencies through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Support Function (ESF). BLM Ranger Ernesto Felix from the Elko District originally deployed to Orlando, Florida, and is now on his way to Puerto Rico.
The Nevada Rangers are part of a Quick Reaction Team (QRT), which became emergency first responders for guest and staff of the La Concha hotel where they are staying when Maria hit. Several of the guests and staff, including a 91-year old woman, were treated for injuries following the devastating hurricane. The team is now taking part in Search and Rescue Operations.