Here’s what is happening in Puerto Rico and how you can help
In the aftermaths of Hurricane Fiona, here’s where to donate and how to raise awareness
words Megan Wallace
On Sunday 18 September, Hurricane Fiona struck in Puerto Rico, causing damage to homes, floods and leading to a blackout across the island. While the weather event took place last week, the effects have been long-lasting due to how the strong winds impacted key infrastructure: by Thursday, 62% individuals were still without power and a third were without water.
Additionally, there have been reports of landslides and broken roads, leaving at least six municipalities with areas currently cut-off as government officials and charities attempt to distribute necessary supplies. The hurricane has since hit Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic, passing by Bermuda, and is now headed to Canada.
The impact of Hurricane Fiona has been so devastating in Puerto Rico due to the fact that the country is still rebuilding following the deadly category five Hurricane Maria in 2017 which left the island without power for eleven months and claimed 3000 lives. Five years later, over 3000 homes on the island still have tarps for roofs, and the power system has been gravely damaged. The situation is, in part, so severe due to the fact that while the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Puerto Rico is a US unincorporated territory) allocated $28 billion for recovery projects following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, only $5.3 billion of that money has been spent so far.
In light of the events currently unfolding in Puerto Rico and the lasting damage which Hurricane Fiona has wrought, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are ways to help those currently in the island who are affected by the storm. Below, we collate all the different ways you can help.
There are a range of organisations doing direct action to distribute aid in response to Hurricane Fiona and begin the work to rebuild the country. These include:
- Techos Pa' Mi Gente: Puerto Rican-based charity Techos Pa' Mi Gente was founded after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017. The organisation is dedicated to rebuilding homes following natural disasters. Donate here.
- Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico: Created in 2013, Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico is a charity dedicated to eradicating hunger in Puerto Rico through community kitchens. Donate here.
- Taller Salud: A women-led, feminist organisation, Taller Salud is distributing essentials such as food, nappies, water and toiletries. Donate here.
- Bridaga Solidaria del Oeste: This mutual aid group is responding to the crisis by giving those in need the basic supplies currently needed as well as advocating for greater attention to be given to how the disaster has impacted the west of Puerto Rico. Donate here.
- Hispanic Federation: A non-profit member organisation looking to support Latine communities across the US, including Puerto Rico, the Hispanic Federation is coordinating donations to support local relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Donate here.
If you don't have the means to donate, it's still worth educating yourself on the events currently taking place in Puerto Rico, as well as the wider context of country. Puerto Rico is currently struggling due to infrastructural problems caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, a crisis which was exacerbated by slow investment. Additionally, the country's electricity bills have doubled since January 2021 due to the private company LUMA Energy, an organisation which has not managed to solve the problem of power outages on the island.
The musician Bad Bunny recently raised awareness of some of the issues facing Puerto Rico in his latest song "El Apagón" (The Blackout). The video accompanying the song features an 18 minute documentary exploring the country today, including gentrification, neo-imperialism, wealth inequality and persistent infrastructural issues. For anyone wanting to learn more about what is happening more broadly in the country, from the perspective of someone who was born there, we would recommend watching the project below.
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