Puerto Rico Completely Devastated After Hurricane Maria + How We Can Help
By:     -   September 26, 2017   -   News Break   -   Comments are closed   -   530 Views
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Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

All throughout the caribbean, islands have been in recovery mode after being completely devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria no less than 2 weeks ago. Among the devastations are the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, United States territories, both of which continue to face serious peril and distress as aid delivery has been slow-going.

Puerto Rico, in particular, where 3.5 million Americans are suffering, is in extremely bad shape – drenched under water, severe infrastructural damage, crippled communications and medical support, no electricity and low supply of basic necessities (i.e., food, drinking water, medications). And in the midst of it all, residents are feeling completely forgotten in the whirlwind of this national humanitarian crisis.

Puerto Rico needs our help, urgency, resources and attention. The island has virtually no running water or electricity, and ~ 80 percent of the island’s crops have been destroyed.

Governor Ricardo Rossello, is urging Congress to take action in getting an aid package approved that will help get recovery efforts underway.

“We need something tangible, a bill that actually answers to our need right now. Otherwise, there will be a massive exodus to the (mainland) United States.” -Ricardo Rossello

Per PBS, here are some ways that we can immediately volunteer, as well as offer cash and supplies to Puerto Rico:

DONATE

CAMPAIGNS

GoFundMe has also created a hub that includes all campaigns for Hurricane Maria. You can also find campaigns for individual families seeking help for loved ones.

The government of Puerto Rico has also launched a guide that details how individuals or companies can donate emergency and construction supplies (from bottled water, hand sanitizer and formula to extension cords, tarp and safety glasses). The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) is coordinating many of these donations here (and corporate giving here).

VOLUNTEER

Once infrastructure is stable, the country will also need volunteers. VOAD is a good place to start. It can help match you with organizations with efforts already underway.

CHECK-INS

Part of the problem is that much of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean isn’t able to ask for help, due to loss of power and infrastructure.

Facebook has a safety check page for victims and their families to check in with each other, as does Google Docs’ person finder. If you or loved one has access to any kind of cell or internet service, the American Red Cross also has an Emergency! App for saftey check-ins and updates. Univision launched an interactive page where you can search for updates on individual municipalities. Officials in Puerto Rico are asking people to report U.S. citizens who need emergency assistance to the State Department through its Task Force Alert program. Go to http://tfa.state.gov and select “2017 Storm Maria.”


Finding reliable ways to give, especially during times when multiple disasters intersect like they did this month, can be overwhelming. This list is a good place to start, but as always, do your own research to make sure your aid dollars go as far as they possibly can in the right direction. Visit Charity Navigator if you aren’t sure whether an organization is trustworthy.


 

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