Puerto Rico Has Been Declared a Disaster and They Urgently Need Help

Your guide to Hurricane Maria disaster relief: what’s working, what’s not and what you can do about it.

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Sep 22 2017, 2:00pm

Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Another natural disaster has wreaked havoc in North America as communities are still grappling with the effects of the earthquakes in Mexico, Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Texas, and Hurricane Irma in both the Caribbean and the southeastern region of the US earlier this month. The region suffered another huge hit after Hurricane Maria made landfall, tearing through Puerto Rico and a number of Caribbean Islands.

Maria hit with 155mph winds and unleashed a torrential downpour with some locations receiving nearly 40 inches of rain. The storm's combination of high winds and heavy rains knocked out the power to the island, leaving its 3.5 million residents without electricity possibly for months. Officials are stating that there hasn't been a storm this intense to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century and the island is currently without power.

Here's how you can help, right now:

  • Donate to Save the Children as they provide both immediate assistance and long-term aid to children, youth and their families in Puerto Rico and other locales affected by Hurricane Maria.
  • The island of Vieques was hit particularly hard and is essentially in ruins. People are without power, food or shelter and very little resources are reaching the island. ViequesLove has been set up by local residents with 100% of the proceeds going to residents and local nonprofits.
  • Support the work of Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico, a grassroots community organization, as they assist in recovery efforts. If you feel sympathy for their cause, here's how you can learn more about their work.
  • New York City has the highest percentage of Puerto Rican-Americans than any other US city. Mayor DeBlasio announced via Twitter that the city would send monetary aid and is deploying police and firemen to act as first responders. Here's how you can donate to the cause.

Advocate for Better Policy

  • Tell Defense Secretary James Mattis, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and President Trump to send Navy Hospital Ship, the USNS Comfort, to the island by signing this petition. Puerto Rico is still without power and local hospitals are reaching capacity, having the naval hospital ship there would be an incredible resource for people in need of medical care.
  • The Jones Act is a bureaucratic rule on transporting cargo from the US mainland to the island of Puerto Rico that makes delivering goods pricey. The Department of Homeland Security has issued a temporary waiver on the regulation that will expire in 10-days from September 28, which isn't enough time to get Puerto Rico back on its feet. Sign this petition to demand that President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico for at least 12-months to help rebuild the nation after the hurricane destroyed the island's infrastructure and economy.

And then some:

Puerto Rico isn't the only place that's in dire need of emergency aid right now. The island of the Dominica and several other Caribbean countries will also need donations and charitable contributions in the wake of Hurricane Maria and prior storms. The Caribbean Tourism Organization has created a Go Fund Me to contribute to the larger efforts to get the region back on its feet. Find out more ways to get involved here.