ANAHEIM, Calif. (April 9, 2018) — Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Public Works Director Rudy Emami are visiting Puerto Rico on Monday as part of a group of mainland mayors and officials offering expertise, experience and ongoing connection with counterparts on the rebuilding island.
Mayor Tait and Emami are visiting Guaynabo City just outside San Juan, meeting with Mayor Angel Perez Otero and touring the city of 100,000 residents.
“We’ve all seen the devastation in Puerto Rico and wondered how we can help,” Tait said. “This is a chance for Anaheim to be a resource for Guaynabo as it moves forward. If we can provide any insight into rebuilding or rallying the community after a disaster, we stand ready to help.”
Guaynabo saw widespread damage from Hurricane Maria in September. The city is still recovering from power and water outages, damaged roads and bridges and thousands of destroyed or damaged homes.
The Anaheim visit is part of the Mayor Exchange program created by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and funded by the Open Society Foundations, a New York-based philanthropic group.
Tait is one of some 40 mayors taking part in the exchange. Others include Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, Denver’s Michael Hancock and Jim Kenney of Philadelphia.
The visiting mayors and staff are offering advice and insight on applying for and deploying federal emergency aid, rebuilding and other disaster recovery topics. Anaheim will also look to learn from Puerto Rico as our city better prepares for natural disasters.
“Thankfully, Anaheim has not seen the level of devastation that has beset Puerto Rico,” Tait said. “But we can share how we have come back from fires that impacted our city. At the same time, I'll be looking to learn from Puerto Rico's experience and how its people have rallied in the face of such challenge."
In October, Anaheim lived through Canyon Fire 2, which destroyed 13 homes at the city’s eastern edge.
In 2008, the city suffered even more devastation with the Freeway Complex Fire, which destroyed or damaged 94 homes in east Anaheim.
Since 2010, Tait has led Anaheim’s City of Kindness initiative, which promotes acts of kindness and stronger communities where neighbors know one another.
“Kindness builds social muscle — the ability of a community to rally in the face of disaster and rebound even stronger,” Tait said. “As we have seen Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and California, our first responders are stretched beyond their limits in a major disaster. Connected neighbors are there for one another in times of need. The ability to foster community resiliency is one of the most important benefits of kindness.”