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Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network
Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund
Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund
Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund
Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund
Rebuilding a new Boys & Girls Club in San Lorenzo
Rebuilding a new Boys & Girls Club in San Lorenzo

Recently, two GlobalGiving team members visited our nonprofit partners in Puerto Rico to better understand how communities are recovering after Hurricane Maria. They met with community leaders to listen to stories of progress and heartache, and to jointly design new ways to support locally-led recovery and resilience efforts in 2020. 

On Jan. 7, 2020, a 6.4 earthquake followed by hundreds of tremors caused significant damage to the island’s southwest region. With hearts heavy with worry for those we had just visited, GlobalGiving immediately contacted our partners to assess the latest relief needs. To support the earthquake relief efforts of the communities still grappling with the effects of Hurricane Maria, visit our Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief Page.

Here are three takeaways from our team’s recent visit to Puerto Rico:

Hurricanes amplify structural issues in Puerto Rico.
The destruction of Hurricane Maria exacerbated long-standing issues facing Puerto Rico, such as its debt crisis, out-migration, and aging energy infrastructure. People living in already precarious conditions were left even more vulnerable by the devastation the hurricane inflicted on the island. Local nonprofit partner G-8 has used recovery funds from GlobalGiving to support housing recovery and relocation in Caño Martín Peña communities, as well as to support a number of repair programs and advocacy campaigns focused on resilience to future disasters. 

Civil society is the backbone of recovery.
The 2017 disaster caused more than $100 billion in damages, while federal aid distributed thus far to the island (approximately $14 billion of  $41 billion currently allocated) has been well below what is needed for society to fully rebuild. Just this month the federal government announced it will finally begin the process to release housing funds for rebuilding. To fill this gap, local and international nonprofit organizations have been spearheading the recovery process. Local nonprofits, such as Taller Salud, engage in case management and advocacy efforts to ensure that all community members have a voice in an equitable recovery. 

The generosity of GlobalGiving donors continues to sustain long-term recovery.
GlobalGiving made nearly $2 million in grants in 2019 alone to our trusted nonprofit partners based in Puerto Rico, with the support of individuals like you, to bolster the economic, social, and environmental recovery of communities across Puerto Rico. One recent grant is supporting the Puerto Rico Community Foundation to organize rural community leaders into a network focused on ensuring the sustainable use of 52 community aqueducts across the island. Over the long term, this work will contribute to safe and reliable access to drinking water in many communities that were heavily impacted by the hurricane. We will be sharing the progress of this grant and other initiatives in the coming months.

Members of our team will be returning to Puerto Rico in February, where we will be connecting with more of our trusted partners that continue to be at the forefront of Hurricane Maria recovery. From all of us at GlobalGiving, thank you for your inspiring generosity and support.

With gratitude,

Andrea + the GlobalGiving Team

Home being repaired by local nonprofit, G-8
Home being repaired by local nonprofit, G-8
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Thanks to the generous support of nearly 50,000 donors like you who've raised more than $11 million to fund immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria, we have a new story of progress to share this month, this time from All Hands and Hearts, a GlobalGiving partner that’s been active in responding to numerous natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey, Florence, and Michael, and the 2015 Nepal earthquakes

 

Over the past five months of All Hands and Hearts' relief efforts in Puerto Rico, their team has determined that the greatest need in communities is roofing assistance. Blue tarps stand out prominently in every neighborhood they work in, and most have been up since Maria struck the island. The tarps are doing little to protect homeowners from the elements and are a constant reminder of a disaster that has so profoundly affected their lives.

 

There are two common types of roofs in Puerto Rico: flat, concrete roofs and pitched wooden roofs. Each poses its own set of challenges when it comes to rebuilding more resiliently ahead of future storms. But by not simply repairing roofs to their original designs and taking the extra step to make them hurricane resilient, All Hands is relieving the bottleneck in the pace of recovery and the challenges local groups and outside nonprofits face in affording the materials required to rebuild in a resilient way. Once the critical roof repairs are completed homeowners are able to move forward with the repairs inside their home and return to some semblance of life before Maria.

 

With support from GlobalGiving donors like you, All Hands and Hearts is also launching a house repair program in Dominica, where they'll be carrying out essential repair work for people whose homes have had no roof since September 2017, and some who were still recovering from damage from Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. As hurricane season is approaching, the vital funding you've provided will allow their team to recruit, train, and deploy teams of motivated volunteers to help repair roofs more quickly. 

 

Thank you again for your generosity and for standing with the people of Puerto Rico and Dominica as they continue on the path to a full recovery. We look forward to sharing more stories of the progress you’ve made possible in the months to come. 

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Photo from P.E.C.E.S.
Photo from P.E.C.E.S.

As the people of Puerto Rico continue to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, we're proud to share stories from our nonprofit partners who have remained hard at work, leading ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts in their communities.

The incredible generosity of GlobalGivers like you and more than 49,000 others who've come together to raise more than $11 million has helped make these stories possible:

In southeastern Puerto Rico, Programa de Educacion Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) delivers programs to promote education, at-risk youth intervention and health, and economic and community development. To help their communities recover from Maria, P.E.C.E.S. is rebuilding homes in coastal areas where residents received little to no support from FEMA or insurers, as well as launching a series of workshops and events aimed at using arts and sports to help old and young folks alike heal from trauma experienced during the hurricane. And thanks to funding from GlobalGivers like you, they're now able to purchase a passenger van to transport elderly residents to doctor and therapy appointments, pharmacies, and grocery stores.

Asesores Financieros Comunitarios is strengthening the capacity of Puerto Rico's nonprofit community, which experienced severe downturns in their finances and staffing due to Maria. Through a series of trainings for nonprofit staff and board members on issues of administration, accounting, legal compliance, and governance, they aim to help nonprofits achieve sound administrative practices and improve the overall delivery of social services on the island.

In the city of San Antonio on Puerto Rico's northwestern coast, Proyecto La Nueva Esperanza works with elderly residents who live alone to ensure they have access to medical care, meals, and other essentials. They've recently been able to increase their meal delivery program from two days a week to five, achieve their goal for improving living conditions among their program participants, and have announced they'll be starting repairs on storm-damaged homes in the coming months.

Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo’s mission is to prevent youth violence and help at-risk youth complete their education and develop into leaders in their communities. Maria dealt a heavy blow to their organization, hindering its capacity to execute their programs. While their staff has finally been able to resume its programs for at-risk youth, the nonprofit has a long way to go to fully recover in terms of financial and organizational capacity. With a recent round of funding from GlobalGiving, Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo will be able to bring on development staff to improve their financial situation as well as creating and implementing a community response plan in preparation for the next hurricane to strike the island.

Instituto Nueva Escuela, which supports and promotes Montessori teaching methods in Puerto Rico, is working in the communities it serves to implement reforestation and renewable energy projects, expand access to potable water, and launch volunteer programs in Maria-impacted neighborhoods.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico's facility in San Lorenzo suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Maria, so much so that the building remains closed more than a year and a half after the storm. They've continued to provide their hot meal and educational programs to children in the community, but working out of a rented property has caused logistical challenges. With support from the GlobalGiving community, they will be moving into a former elementary school that will provide a safe, welcoming space for the youth they serve.

We're also excited to share that one of the leaders of our partners working on Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, Ana Yris Guzmán of Nuestra Escuela, was selected as a member of the first class of Disaster Feedback Fellows of the Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving. She joined nine other fellows from community-based nonprofits to spend a week in Washington, D.C. this past October learning from each other, promoting their disaster recovery projects to peers and funders, and speaking at and attending the 2018 Feedback Summit.

Thank you again for your generous support of our community-led nonprofit partners who are leading recovery and rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria. Look for more stories of progress in your inbox in the coming months.


With gratitude,
Will + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo
Photo from Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo
Photo from Proyecto La Nueva Esperanza
Photo from Proyecto La Nueva Esperanza
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Photo from All Hands and Hearts
Photo from All Hands and Hearts

Even as we near the one-year mark since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, we continue to learn about the true scope of the devastation wrought by the storm. In just the past few weeks, the island’s government updated its estimate of deaths due to Maria to 2,975, up dramatically from its original count of 64. This new estimate reflects the storm’s widespread destruction and disruption of critical systems and infrastructure, which led to thousands of people dying of storm-related causes in the weeks and months that followed the hurricane’s initial impact.

Immediately after landfall, our community-led nonprofit partners quickly responded in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean, and they've remained hard at work over the past year, striving toward a complete recovery with generous support from GlobalGivers like you. To date, 47,924 of you have raised an incredible $11.4 million to support 39 vetted nonprofits that provided emergency relief in the days and weeks following Hurricane Maria and have now transitioned into long-term recovery work.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria and support vital ongoing recovery efforts, we're launching a new matching campaign that will match 100% all donations to our vetted nonprofit partners continuing to work with the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean recover and rebuild.

Since our last report, your donation has provided vital support to a wide range of long-term recovery work, with a focus on repairing and replacing damaged homes, reopening schools, and improving the ability of communities to withstand future storms:

  • G-8, Grupo de las Ocho Comunidades Aledañas al Caño Martín Peña is repairing storm-damaged roofs in the string of communities along San Juan’s major canal, Caño Martín Peña. They’ve determined that an estimated 840 new housing units will need to be built over the next decade to accommodate Maria-affected residents living along the canal.
  • Coastal communities in Humacao and neighboring towns were among those most severely impacted by Maria’s landfall. Programa de Educacion Comunal de Entrega y Servicio, Inc., or PECES, is helping these communities recover through distributing food, replacing furniture and household items, and organizing community clean-ups. The organization is also helping people in Humacao become better prepared for future hurricanes by distributing solar and electric generators to small businesses and homebound residents.
  • Comprehensive Disaster Response Services is repairing damaged homes, including many roofs, in Las Marias, Mayaguez, Morovis, Sabana Grande and San German, as well as a Boy Scout cabin in Guajataka to provide basic shelter to residents before the next hurricane season begins.
  • Corporacion La Fondita de Jesus is repairing roofs, stairs, and sidewalks in the communities of La Perla, Colectora and Playita in San Juan, They’re also installing solar lamps to illuminate streets and public gathering spots, and identifying and training community leaders to coordinate emergency response ahead of future storms.
  • Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. is launching a pilot project to empower and train youth and young adults to become leaders in their communities, giving them the skills to lead local recovery efforts.
  • Nuestra Escuela’s school in Caguas, which supports disadvantaged youth who  are at-risk of dropping out, suffered extensive flood damage from Hurricane Maria. They’ve begun rebuilding their school and have expanded their daily lunch program beyond their students to serve community members still struggling with food insecurity.
  • Taller Salud, Inc. is restoring damaged homes and building new ones, as well as providing rent vouchers for relocation or home acquisition expenses to women and their families in Loiza, Puerto Rico.
  • Proyecto La Nueva Esperanza, Inc is providing vital services to the elderly in San Antonio, who account for roughly 32% of the community’s population. They’re delivering meals, bringing people to medical appointments or the supermarket, and transporting community members to recovery-related meetings in San Juan. With support from GlobalGivers, they’ve been able to replace one of their badly damaged service vehicles.
  • Instituto Nueva Escuela is rehabilitating damaged Montessori schools in traditionally marginalized communities in Barranquitas, Humacao, Luis Llorens Torres, Cantera, and Vieques, and is also installing solar panels and access to potable water.
  • Asesores Financieros Comunitarios and Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico, Inc. are focusing on strengthening Puerto Rico’s nonprofit sector by providing workshops and training for local nonprofit staff on how to manage the changing demands on their organizations in Maria’s aftermath.
  • Internews is supporting local media and public accountability efforts through their Community Correspondent’s Network—a group of residents from across the island who provide news coverage on the communities where they live. They’re also working with the island’s nonprofit community to improve communication and coordination between organizations ahead of future storms.
  • On the island of Dominica, IsraAID’s staff is empowering local women to take the lead in recovery efforts. Together, they’re repairing damaged roofs, launching a beekeeping association to provide new economic opportunities, and providing job training to unemployed young people. All Hands and Hearts is recruiting and training local volunteers to assist with house repairs, with a particular focus on installing new, storm-resistant roofs.

Thank you again for your generous support of our Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund, and for making the smart decision to donate cash to fund an effective, community-led approach to disaster recovery. We'll be back in your inbox in the coming months with more stories of progress toward a full recovery for the people of Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean.

 

Warmly,
Will Frechette + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo
Photo from Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo
Photo from IsraAID
Photo from IsraAID
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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
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