In the Wake of Hurricane Maria, Here’s How to Help People in Puerto Rico
Most of the island remains without power after the worst hurricane in modern history.
Last week, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico with winds up to 155 MPH, heavy rainfall, and storm surges between six and nine feet.
Buildings were razed. Roads were washed away. Trees and other vegetation were ripped out of the ground, leaving a nearly unrecognizable wasteland in place of the once lush island.
"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years," Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón told CNN. "I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone."
At least 10 people are reported dead, and much of Puerto Rico remains without power.
Damage to cell towers and other communications infrastructure left residents and officials cut off from the rest of the world, with no way to update family and friends on their condition. It’s estimated that many will remain without power for months.
In northwestern Puerto Rico, 70,000 people were evacuated from a river valley when a massive dam cracked, endangering communities below. As of Monday morning, the order was still in effect, as officials began to formally inspect the structural integrity of the dam.
As more information trickles through to the rest of the world, it is clear that Puerto Rico is in desperate need of assistance.
Facing critical short- and long-term needs, the island of Puerto Rico opened its main port to begin accepting aid on Saturday. The Chicago Tribune reports that 11 ships carried in shipments of over 1.5 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, food, and generators, with many more shipments expected over the following days.
Currently, over 15,000 Puerto Ricans are being housed in shelters. Water, food, medical supplies, and other basic needs are being requested.
Read More: Hurricane Irma Leaves As Many As 150,000 Puerto Ricans Without Safe Drinking Water
Additionally, efforts are underway to provide satellite phones for residents who are still unable to get in contact with loved ones.
Many in the US are stepping up to help provide assistance to those in need, including Jennifer Lopez, the iconic entertainer of Puerto Rican descent. The singer/actress pledged $1 million to recovery efforts while also vowing to pressure her extended celebrity network to do the same.
J. Lo urged fans to donate money to United for Puerto Rico, a relief organization created by the first lady of Puerto Rico Beatriz Rosselló.
Other organizations, such as the Red Cross and UNICEF have begun launching aid missions as well, pledging to provide much-needed emergency support in the face of what is quickly becoming a humanitarian crisis.
For Global Citizens interested in donating to relief efforts on the island of Puerto Rico, please explore the list of organizations providing aid below.