Most residents of Puerto Rico are still without power, water, or both. In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which battered the island on Sunday and Monday. It killed at least two people.
In some areas, the Category 3 storm dumped up to 32 inches of rain. Causing catastrophic flooding and mudslides that threaten to continue. Authorities have only recently begun to assess the extent of the damage.
According to the Puerto Rico Emergency Portal System. Electricity is still out for 80% of the island’s nearly 1.5 million customers as of Tuesday afternoon. 55% of households do not have running water.
At least 1,000 people have been rescued from the flooding. Over 1,200 are currently housed in shelters.
On Sunday, President Joe Biden declared the State of Emergency, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to dispatch assistance. They coordinate recovery efforts. According to National Guard Brig, the flooding from Fiona is unlike anything he has seen.
Many are comparing the situation to Hurricane Maria, which made landfall five years ago Tuesday. The US territory has not entirely recovered from the damage, and its power grid has remained underutilized.
Fiona had made its way to the Dominican Republic, 40 miles west of Puerto Rico’s coast. Then to Turks and Caicos. And heavy rains are still expected across the islands for the rest of the week.
Puerto Rico’s power provider, LUMA energy, has begun restoring customer service. But the repairs will take days. Meanwhile, local emergency response teams and support services are assisting.
While individuals are discouraged from traveling to the island on their own to volunteer in person, you can still help Puerto Ricans affected by the hurricane.
Here’s How It’s Done: Where Can I Donate Money?
Many local nonprofits and organizations have rushed to provide food, shelter, and services in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. Since 2013, Comedores Sociales has operated community kitchens in Puerto Rico through mutual aid. After Hurricane Maria, the nonprofit Techos Pa’ Mi Gente began rebuilding storm-damaged areas.
Other regional and national organizations are also soliciting donations for specific assistance. The Hispanic Federation is raising funds for its relief fund on the island. Project HOPE is accepting donations to fund teams on the ground providing medical aid.
Direct Relief is raising funds to provide mobile health facilities, emergency medicine, and backup power. The Government has aided the other services to Puerto Rico.
Activists advocate for directing funds to groups on the ground in Puerto Rico that can use donations right away. Rather than large nonprofits or FEMA. Puerto Rican officials were dissatisfied with FEMA’s slow recovery response following Hurricane Maria. According to Reuters, the agency has only spent about $20 billion of the $65 billion allocated to Puerto Rico following Maria.
Where can I donate supplies?
Several local groups collect supplies and distribute them to people in need for those already in Puerto Rico.
Fundación Mochileando 10035, nonprofit fighting poverty on the island, is collecting canned foods, water, diapers, and pet food in San Juan. They are delivering them throughout central and southern Puerto Rico. Brigada Solidaria del Oeste, another mutual aid organization. They have requested water purification tablets, solar lamps, water filters, first-aid kits, non-perishable foods, and other necessities. In the San Germán neighborhood, they have established a collection center.
Taller Salud in Puerto Rico is looking for physical donations. They are looking for toiletries, shelf-stable foods, solar lanterns, and other items for local distribution. (For more information on their requests, click here.) They also accept donations via their website.
What else can you do to assist us?
Those interested in volunteering in Puerto Rico can contact the Puerto Rico Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). A network of relief organizations that matches volunteers with local members. VOAD advises that, while emergencies may compel people to go and help, volunteers should not show up without prior authorization.