First came Hurricane Irma, and then Hurricane Maria. Now, the devastation left by Maria is still unknown in Puerto Rico, but the news is not looking good. Many areas are flooded, people have lost their homes, and the entire island is without power. Many of us on the U.S. mainland are uncertain about the wellbeing of our family and friends as communication is largely unavailable. Some reports suggest that restoring power to the entire island could take four to six months. Considering this is the most powerful storm to hit PR in a century, there is a lot of uncertainty as to what it will take for Puerto Rico to rebuild.
Speaking to NBC News, the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz remarked that she’s “never seen devastation like this.” In order to face the weeks and months of work ahead Cruz added that “the human spirit is going to have to rise up real high and I’m sure we have the strength to do it, but we have to find it within ourselves.”
Puerto Ricans are resilient and they will not be left alone in their effort to rebuild. If you, like me, are far from Puerto Rico but are looking to help, here are some ways you can contribute.
Unidos por Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rican First Lady, Beatriz Rosselló, started this initiative in collaboration with big corporations who want to help Puerto Rico rebuild. Visit UnidosPorPuertoRico.com for more information.
Find a drop-off location.
Many people are organizing drop-off locations to send goods to those in need. Look for a drop-off location near you and make sure you provide items that are truly in need. Also, consider donating your time to that drop-off location to help package and organize containers before shipment.
This nonprofit was working in the Puerto Rican community long before Maria and Irma uprooted the lives of many. Now, they’re switching their efforts to bring effective change to the communities who have been most severely impacted. All donations collected will be used in relief efforts, not for overhead costs. And if you have any uncertainty, they keep their actions transparent and will update donors with an audited impact report. You can donate and learn more, here.
Volunteer to go to Puerto Rico.
People are needed to go to Puerto Rico, especially if you have a trade such as construction or medicine that can immediately be put to use. These organizations are organizing volunteer efforts. Keep in mind that because of the compromised infrastructure, issues such as housing and food will be an issue that should be worked out in advance.
The Hispanic Federation along with elected officials and a coalition of community organizations launched “Unidos”: A Hurricane Relief Fund for Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico. 100% of proceeds will be distributed to hurricane victims and go toward PR’s recovery. The fund has also committed to giving $50,000 to Mexico following its devastating earthquake. One of the partners in this effort, Mark-Viverito, told Jezebel the plan for the money raised for PR. “At some point the idea is to identify local grassroots groups, which we will vet, so that the money that is collected here can be directed to the people, as opposed to giving it to the government to figure out what to do.”