How to Help Puerto Rico After Hurricane Fiona

YouIn Puerto Rico, two people were killed in Hurricane Fiona’s immediate aftermath.

In some areas, the Category 3 storm delivered up to 32 inches rain. This led to severe flooding and mudslides. The damage has only been assessed by authorities. As of Tuesday afternoon, electricity is still out for 80% of the island’s nearly 1.5 million customers, and 55% of households have no running water, according to the Puerto Rico Emergency Portal System.

Over 1,200 people are now sheltering in shelters after being rescued by flooding.

The President Joe Biden declared Sunday a State of Emergency, authorizing FEMA to coordinate relief efforts and dispatch assistance. National Guard Brig. General Narciso Cruz said to the AP that the flooding caused by Fiona was unlike any other. Many are comparing it with Hurricane Maria which made landfall on Tuesday five years ago. This U.S. territory has not completely rebuilt or recovered from those damages, and the power grid remains weak.

Continue reading: Solar Power Is Helping Some Puerto Rico Homes Avoid Hurricane Fiona Blackouts

By Tuesday, Fiona continued its path of destruction to the Dominican Republic, 40 miles west of Puerto Rico’s coast, and then to Turks and Caicos. Heavy rains will continue to be forecast for the rest of the week on the islands.

Puerto Rico’s power provider, LUMA energy, has begun restoring service to customers, but has said the repairs are going to take days. The relief efforts are being made by the local emergency-response teams and the support services available on the ground.

Individuals are not allowed to visit the island alone to help out, but you can support Puerto Ricans who have been affected by Hurricane Maria. Here’s how:

How to give money

Numerous local non-profits have responded to Hurricane Fiona by providing shelter and food as well as services. Since 2013, Comedores Sociales operates community kitchens throughout Puerto Rico through mutual assistance. The nonprofit Techos Pa’ Mi Gente started reconstructing areas destroyed by storms after Hurricane Maria.

Additional donations are being sought by national and regional organisations for aid. Hispanic Federation has begun collecting money for its relief fund. Project HOPE will accept money to support teams in the field to deliver medical assistance. Direct Relief is currently funding Puerto Rico’s mobile health care facilities, back-up power and other needs.

They advocate that funding be directed to organizations on the ground in Puerto Rico, which can then use donated funds immediately. This is more than large charities or FEMA. Puerto Rican officials became frustrated with FEMA’s slow response after Hurricane Maria. Reuters says that FEMA spent just $20 billion on Puerto Rico’s $65 billion allocation for recovery.

Continue reading: What Does the Meaning of Hurricane Categories Really Mean?

How to give supplies away

There are many local organizations that collect supplies for Puerto Rico and distribute them to those in need.

For example, Fundación Mochileando 100×35, a nonprofit fighting poverty on the island, is collecting supplies such as canned foods, water, diapers, and pet food in San Juan and delivering them throughout central and southern Puerto Rico. Brigada Solidaria del Oeste has also requested water purification tablets and solar lamps. They are also looking for first aid kits, food, non-perishable items, as well as water filters. They have set up a collection center in the San Germán neighborhood.

Taller Salud, a women-run organization in Puerto Rico, is looking for physical donations to help with local distribution. (HereHere are more details on their needs. Their website also accepts donations.

How can you help others?

Puerto Rico Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is a network that matches volunteers and locals who are interested in volunteering in Puerto Rico. VOAD states that although emergency situations can be a motivating factor for people wanting to help in a disaster area, they recommend that no volunteers show up to the scene without clearance.

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