How to Help Hurricane Fiona Victims in Puerto Rico

A hurricane that hit Puerto Rico on Sunday left at least one person dead and millions of island residents without power or running water.

Hurricane Fiona, the sixth named storm this season, is only the third to upgrade from a tropical storm to a hurricane since the Atlantic hurricane season began in June.

The Category 1 hurricane brought sustained winds topping 85 mph and torrential rain, with some areas receiving up to 25 inches, triggering flooding and mudslides. It also caused a power outage across the island.

More than 1.3 million customers were still without power Monday at noon.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said power was restored to more than 100,000 users Monday afternoon and said the outage should not last more than a few days.

Fiona made landfall in US territory two days before the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rican officials say the island’s power grid and infrastructure are still recovering from the devastation caused by Maria, which knocked out power for nearly a year in some places and created the world’s largest blackout. of United States history.

President Joe Biden on Sunday approved a declaration of emergency for Puerto Rico, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief services to people affected by the latest hurricane.

Here are some ways to help.

Needs on the ground now

Local nonprofits and grassroots organizations are mobilizing as quickly as possible and asking for additional help to meet the urgent needs of Puerto Ricans.

“It’s very different from Maria. A major problem here is the rain,” said David Guadalupe, president of Puerto Rico’s National Voluntary Organizations Disaster Active (VOAD). memory of the past five years.

Puerto Rico VOAD established 25 long-term recovery groups scattered across the island to streamline regional relief efforts in response to Maria’s destruction. Guadalupe encourages those who wish to contribute to visit their website or donate directly to their members, who are part of a network of more than 2,600 organizations serving Fiona victims.

The Hispanic Federation, a Washington-based nonprofit, is asking for financial support after already sending volunteers to coordinate its network of 100 community partners.

International Medical Corps has teams in Puerto Rico responding to Hurricane Fiona. They work alongside local authorities to provide critical care to victims. They accept donations here.

Diaspora for Puerto Rico, a New York-based nonprofit, has launched a fundraising site to fund local volunteers and grassroots community organizations amid the growing disaster response, as approximately 5.8 million Puerto Ricans live off the island.

Myriam Lorenzo, president of Stronger than Maria, a nonprofit created after the 2017 hurricane, focused on bridging the gap between Puerto Rico and the American mainland.
She remembers volunteers pouring in from the United States to support their efforts after Maria passed. Lorenzo’s team has rebuilt 629 homes in nearly five years, but building materials are expensive to buy on the island. His organization is appealing for donations via Paypal to help Puerto Ricans cope with the effects of a new hurricane.

Needs range from food and drinking water to tarpaulins to cover collapsed roofs and even new mattresses as children sleep in the cold mud.

Donations weren’t flowing into Puerto Rico at that time, Lorenzo said, explaining that they were mostly funding their operations on their own. This led to the creation of Somos Puerto Rico, a group of local artisans selling handmade artwork, clothing, crafts and furniture, and donating a quarter of their income to charities. , including Stronger than Maria.

“What we would like to do is also boost the economy of Puerto Rico,” Lorenzo said, “to let people off the island know that we have a very talented group of artisans doing great work. .

She said the service would raise funds that could pay local artisans while providing resources to support ongoing relief efforts related to the disaster, including Fiona.

“We started from scratch,” Lorenzo said. “I think that’s how we’re going to start again.”

How to avoid charity scams

  • Determine if the organization, nonprofit, or group has a track record of providing help to those in need.
  • Identify local initiatives and efforts that are based in areas most affected by the natural disaster.
  • Beware of phone calls and emails soliciting donations.
  • Avoid unknown agencies and websites. There’s a story of scammers creating websites that look like donation pages after a major tragedy, but were actually scams.

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