Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving Vetted since 2002 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Project of the Month Site Visit Verified

When the wind peeled away roofs and sent debris hurling into homes, they set up tarps and cleared away debris. When families were thirsty and hungry, they gave away bottles of water and hot meals. When neighborhoods were suspended in a state of darkness, with no access to electricity, they distributed generators.

“We were the first face many of the residents saw after the hurricane. We were the first ones to come to help and verify that this is not a lost cause,” said Mario of the ENLACE Project.

Your donation to the Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund is helping Mario, and leaders at more than 20 other locally driven organizations, respond to their community’s most urgent needs.

Today marks six months since Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico. I visited the island last month to meet with our partners on the ground and saw how your decision to invest in their relief and recovery efforts is making an incredible difference!

Because our local partners know their community’s needs better than anyone else, they were able to quickly distribute emergency supplies, identify neighborhoods in need that others overlooked, and marshal multiple sources of support, from local businesses to community volunteer groups.

One nonprofit—situated in hard-hit Punta Santiago on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico—has been able to serve 44,000 people in 13 municipalities since Maria made landfall just 15 miles south with winds of 155 miles per hour.

P.E.C.E.S. has delivered more than 250,000 pounds of food and supplies to hurricane-impacted families, coordinated health and psychological services to 600 people in need, and donated nearly 50 diesel generators to powerless homes—vital projects still in progress when I visited Punta Santiago in late February.

“We have found what we can do together,” P.E.C.E.S. Founder Nancy Madden told me, “and we know we can do even more things together. So, there’s great hope.”

José L. Aponte Cruz is also hopeful despite everything Maria took from him. The hurricane destroyed his family’s beachside restaurant and his car. He told me P.E.C.E.S. has been there for him, providing basic supplies and helping him find affordable rebuilding options.

“After the crisis, we cried and screamed. But now we want to rise,” said Cruz. "We are trying to get back on our feet, by the grace of God.”

Our partners in Puerto Rico are now busy planning for the future—and thinking about how to help people deal with PTSD, develop resilient housing, promote sustainable businesses, and much, much more.

They told me substantial barriers still stand in the way of full recovery, including issues with FEMA, years of economic decline due on the island due to debt, and an ever-shrinking government budget. You can find more in-depth coverage of these and other issues in a story published in Forbes last week, and I will send you additional updates from Puerto Rico over the coming weeks and months.

At this pivotal juncture, please know your support means everything to our Puerto Rican partners. 

With gratitude,
Britt + the GlobalGiving Team



Photo courtesy Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico
Photo courtesy Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico
Photo from IsraAID
Photo from IsraAID

More than three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, life has not returned to normal for millions of people in the Caribbean, especially in Puerto Rico. Some parts of the island are predicted to be without power until May, and the lack of reliable access to electricity has hampered recovery and rebuilding efforts and severely impacted public health and education.

Given the ongoing challenges facing Puerto Ricans, I’m especially grateful that nearly 50,000 donors like you have decided to support locally driven organizations who are committed to following through on what is sure to be a long recovery—and have raised more than $10.6 million so far to fund their work.

Today, I’d like to share the progress being made by six GlobalGiving partners who’ve been assisting survivors in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, with the backing of your generous donation.

  • Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico’s island-spanning network of grassroots organizations have been tackling the myriad problems residents are facing on the road to recovery, including preventing disease outbreaks by controlling burgeoning rat and mosquito populations, clearing debris from roadways, helping farmers restore their storm-damaged fields, delivering psychosocial services for families dealing with the hurricane’s emotional toll, and providing educational opportunities for students while many public schools remained closed.
  • After being hit by Irma and Maria, 1,000 families living in eight communities along the Caño Martín Peña, a 3.75-mile-long tidal channel running through the heart of San Juan, lost the roofs to their homes. In response, a local NGO called Grupo De Las Ocho Comunidades Aledañas Al Caño Martín Peña (G-8) launched the Roofs for the Caño campaign to replace roofs the hurricanes destroyed with more storm-resistant solutions. Their determination to tackle problems government agencies have been unable to address has been profiled in Rolling Stone and Mother Jones.
  • The city of Humacao and its neighboring towns, located on the island’s eastern coast, were among the worst-hit by Maria, and are still lacking consistent electrical power and access to basic services.  Programa De Educacion Comunal De Entrega Y Servicio (PECES), which provides tutoring and after-school programs to thousands of students in the Humacao area, has seen the deep impact the storm’s aftermath has had on the children they serve. To address their needs, PECES is leveraging the access they already have in elementary schools to offer programs aimed at healing the emotional trauma children have experienced through arts and recreation.
  • IsraAID’s Emergency Response Team has been on the island since September 27th, and the team continues to provide emergency relief, and is now planning and implementing longer-term and sustainable solutions. Their team’s current focus is on ensuring communities have access to safe sources of water and providing post-trauma mental health support to survivors.
  • With the storm badly damaging Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and disrupting deliveries of gas and propane to the island, fuel has been in high demand. Fuel Relief Fund has helped 40,000 residents across 15 cities get the fuel they need, whether it’s for transportation or electric generators.
  • Since 2000, Nuestra Escuela has helped more than 1,500 Puerto Rican youth graduate from high school after having previously dropped out for various reasons. Their school buildings in Caguas suffered extensive damage in the storm, and they’ve now begun the process of rebuilding, ensuring that their more than 120 students continue on their path to graduation.

While we’re likely to read more stories in the coming months about the continued impact of power outages and logistical challenges facing government relief efforts, seeing the difference that community-led GlobalGiving partners on the ground are making for the people of Puerto Rico gives me hope that we’ll see a full recovery on the island—and I hope their stories do the same for you.

I’ll be back in your inbox in the coming weeks to share more stories of progress from our partners in Puerto Rico, as well as reports on recovery work underway in Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, and all across the Caribbean. Until then, thank you again for your generous support.

 

Warmly,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from PECES
Photo from PECES
Photo from Fuel Relief Fund
Photo from Fuel Relief Fund
Photo from IsraAID
Photo from IsraAID
Photo from International Community Foundation
Photo from International Community Foundation

Seven weeks have passed since the ferocious winds and rains of hurricanes Irma and Maria took their toll on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Homes were flattened, power and communication towers were reduced to rubble, and lives were turned upside down. Scenes of devastation and heartbreak became a reality for millions of people. Fortunately, GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners are continuing to respond even as the hurricane headlines start to fade. Your donation has provided life-saving relief—emergency meals, fuel, and medical care—to the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Now the focus of relief work has begun to shift towards long-term specialized repairs and recovery. 70% of Puerto Rico remains without power. The death toll has been rising in Dominica, an island that now resembles “a war zone”. The entire country of Barbuda was forced to evacuate and 95% of homes and business were destroyed—there’s not a single human inhabiting Barbuda for the first time in 300 years. Recovery and rebuilding activities will likely take years as the population eventually returns to the island.

GlobalGiving and our partners are in it for the long haul. Our last report focused on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.  We’d like to focus this report on the work you’ve helped make possible in Barbuda.

The Barbuda Recovery & Conservation Trust is run in coordination with International Community Foundation (ICF) and the Waitt Institute, which has been building capacity in Barbuda for the past four years through sustainable development, training, and education. Immediately after hurricanes devastated Barbuda, the Trust provided emergency shelter and housing, food, clothing, and supplies to the resilient people of Barbuda. The Trust is coordinating their response with Barbuda’s local and national government, as part of its council for hurricane recovery efforts, to ensure the most effective distribution of life-saving aid. They also helped maintain payments of daily wages for locals who participated in the relief and recovery effort.

Now, restoration of basic infrastructure is the next necessary step so that Barbudans can return home to their island. Sustainable construction, particularly of the energy, water, and waste infrastructure, will be a priority for the Trust. In the long-term, IFC and the Waitt Institute will restore educational and training programs for adults and children, with the aim of improving livelihoods.

As we receive updates from our partners in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean on the ground over the coming weeks, we'll continue to share their progress with you and report on the impact of your donation. Thank you again for your inspiring generosity.

Warmly,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from Fuel Relief Fund
Photo from Fuel Relief Fund

It's been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean, causing catastrophic damage across a region still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Irma earlier last month. In the face of almost unfathomable destruction, our vetted nonprofit partners across the Caribbean are working tirelessly to bring relief to those in need, despite extensive power outages, fuel shortages, and communications disruptions.

Our community's response to Hurricane Maria's destruction has been overwhelming—more than 30,000 of you have already raised more than $3.5 million to support relief and recovery efforts across the Caribbean.

We sent a first round of disbursements to partners in Puerto Rico last week, and we will be sending additional funds this week as well. Our priority is to fund immediate relief efforts at the moment, with a focus on delivering food, safe drinking water, fuel, and emergency medical care to those in need.

In Puerto Rico, Maria's destruction poses significant challenges to our partners on the ground, who’ve called it, “one of the most complicated crises we have ever responded to.” Ted Honcharik from the Fuel Relief Fund, whose team is distributing desperately needed gasoline to power emergency generators and relief vehicles, reported that all traffic lights on the island are with lying on the ground or without power and that "wifi and cell service are still terrible." Their work on the island is vital at this moment, as without fuel to power generators, hospitals and clinics have been forced to close. In San Juan, their team reports that even the island's government responders were sleeping in their cars overnight while waiting for gas stations to open in the morning. As of tomorrow, October 3, Fuel Relief Fund will be in possession of 6,000 gallons of diesel for generators and a 10,000-gallon tank for deliveries, along with a truck to pull the tank, and government security allowing direct deliveries to first responders, NGOs, and the citizens of Puerto Rico.

Maria also devastated Puerto Rico's drinking water supply, and it's estimated that half of the island's 3.4 million residents are without access to potable water. IsraAID's Emergency Response Team is distributing water filters and training residents and local organizations on how to use them. While running these training sessions, their team is also distributing much-needed food and hygiene products.

Given the severe challenges in distributing aid where so much of the infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged, we're especially thankful that you made the smart decision to donate cash to help our partners respond in the most effective ways possible. Immediately after disasters, getting money to local responders is often much faster and effective than coordinating the delivery of donated physical goods.

We've seen this dynamic play out in Puerto Rico, where one of the biggest problems stymieing relief efforts is that supplies are clogged at the port, where two of our partners are currently working to assist in the distribution of vital aid. Our partners at EMPACT relayed that they're "going to be deploying as a logistics element to ensure distribution of the aid that we've all heard about stacking up. We're working with several US-based partners that have arranged for the donation of supplies and travel into San Juan but that don't have any experience or expertise in on the ground distribution, which is where we come in. We'll meet the first load in Miami this weekend, escort it into Puerto Rico and through the receipt process, ensure it gets onto the waiting trucks, and then make sure it gets into the towns where it's been requested. We're working directly with those municipal governments to make sure that it then gets distributed to those most in need. We'll be assisting the local governments with that distribution as needed."

As we receive updates from our partners on the ground over the coming days and week, we'll share their progress with you and continue to report on the impact of your donation.

Thank you for your generosity,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from IsraAID
Photo from IsraAID
 

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