Puerto Rico’s People Are Still Completely Crippled by Hurricane Maria – Here’s Why

Puerto Rico’s People Are Still Completely Crippled by Hurricane Maria – Here’s Why
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No matter how good or bad you have it in life, it’s important for us to wake up each day and be thankful. Somewhere in the world, there is someone who may be desperately fighting and pleading for theirs.

This quote does not imply that your problems do not matter. Your life, well-being and happiness is very important. It should be an unwritten human-code for us to all want to see the best in eachother. Sometimes when we are absorbed with our own current life mishaps and mental breakdowns, taking a moment to think about all of the other people and lifeforms in our world can really put our problems into perspective.  

Change is inevitable on earth, but one thing that we will always have in common — our planet is our home, to share. With constant change we experience world events on a full spectrum. From heartwarming stories of people doing good deeds for others, to our second extreme of world destruction and devastation. This year we are on track for setting a record in massive natural disasters in the U.S [1].  

When disaster strikes, the effects are typically fairly local – in their physical impact, but these can change the planet. In the 1815 eruption of the Indonesian volcano, Tamora pumped an excessive amount of sulfur into the atmosphere and the world’s temperature dropped by 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) for two years afterwards. In March 2011 the earthquake in Japan actually shifted the earth’s axis, shortening the length of the day [2].

On Wednesday September 20th 2017, a powerful category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds, known as Hurricane Maria – took a direct hit on Puerto Rico, bisecting the entire island and dousing it with feet of rain. What’s happened since has been truly catastrophic for this U.S territory. To put this into perspective as far as rainfall goes, in less than one day parts of Puerto Rico have received 24-36″ of rain. To put this in perspective, Houston had 32″ in three days during Hurricane Harvey [3].

The trending #PrayforPuertoRico statues may have  decreased on social media as those who were not directly affected move on with our lives. But when the winds died down and the rain stopped in Puerto Rico, it’s was just the unfolding of a catastrophe. There were 3.4 million US citizens involved in this humanitarian disaster; home’s disappeared; families separated; lives lost and taken; farmlands decimated [4]. When a 50 to 60-mile-wide tornado storms directly through an island, this is about as strong as a hurricane can get in a direct hit.

Moody’s Analytics, a financial services firm, estimates the storm could cost Puerto Rico $45 billion to $90 billion [4].  There is still little power available on the island. Many places still have no water to drink, bathe in or to flush toilets. There’s limited food and cell service, and dozens of remote villages have been completely cut off from everything for weeks.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency still has not authorized full reconstruction aid to Puerto Rico. President Trump’s comments on the islands recovery have also not inspired any confidence. Instead of helping the U.S territory, Trump has decided to focus on how much money they have already spent on Puerto Rico and how this disaster is throwing the “budget out of whack” [4].

The 3.4 million US citizens that are living in Puerto Rico, are entitled to the same government response as any other state. End of story.

Before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s agriculture was thriving and on the cusp of a renaissance. Local farms were rectifying the island’s struggling economy – producing more milk, plantains and coffee than ever before. But since the storm, about 80 percent of the islands crops were destroyed in a matter of hours. They are now suffering from a loss of $780 million in agricultural yield [5].

In addition to Puerto Ricans needing to start over and rebuild their lives. This storm will be a strain to more than just physical health but also to mental health. With traumatic experience comes a series of ongoing mental health issues; which include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Especially for those  who don’t have access to rapid opportunities for recovery and are living right now without power, water or support. After a major humanitarian disaster like this, studies find a 5 to 15 percent increase in the incidence of mental health problems among survivors [4].

While the U.S. slowly responding to the crisis, there are others who have put their best foot forward to help. Technology firms like Tesla have stepped in to fill a relief-effort void that many say President Donald Trump has created. A pledge by Elon Musk that his company could solve Puerto Rico’s energy crisis with solar panels and batteries, Tesla Powerwall battery packs can help homes, businesses, schools and hospitals on the island make use of their existing solar panel installations by providing energy storage [6].

Another issue facing Puerto Rico is its poor internet connectivity, something Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is seeking to remedy with a swarm of balloons. The aptly named Project Loon will make use of specially adapted weather balloons to beam internet connectivity to people on the ground [7].

Many of us may feel inclined to also help our world during a time of crisis, below is a list of Reputable Puerto Rico-Based Charity Organizations to donate to, followed by larger nonprofits that operate on a national or global scale [8].

The United Funds of Puerto Rico

The Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico is working with the Red Cross and United Way on relief efforts, including an emergency hotline service. The group was started by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans in Action

Several local charities and food banks are partnering to raise $10,000 through the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund.

All money raised will be given to Puerto Ricans in Action, a Los Angeles-based Puerto Rican group. They will then distribute the funds among local nonprofits to pay for food, medical supplies, clothing, social services, and other resources.


ConPRmetidos, a Puerto Rican organization, is hoping to raise $10 million for relief and recovery after Maria.

Friends of Puerto Rico

Friends of Puerto Rico, a charity organization based in Washington, DC, set up a Hurricane Maria Recovery Fund that it hopes will raise $75,000 to rebuild homes and infrastructure.

On September 30, the organization also announced that it will raise additional funds to rebuild centers run by the Boys and Girls Club in San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, Loíza, Isabela, Arecibo, Mayagüez, Aguas Buenas, and San Lorenzo.

The Center for Popular Democracy

The Center for Popular Democracy — located in Brooklyn, New York — has launched the Community Fund for Aid and Recovery of Hurricane Maria, which is focusing on aid for low-income communities of color, women, and girls in Puerto Rico.

Food Bank of Puerto Rico

The Food Bank (Banco de Alimentos) of Puerto Rico is asking for monetary and non-perishable food donations to distribute to Maria victims.

Feeding America, an organization based in Chicago, is also partnering with the food pantry. You can donate through either organization.

Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico

The Habitat for Humanity division in Puerto Rico is fundraising to rebuild homes and neighborhoods on the island.

Information on how to donate via wire transfer is on its Facebook page. The organization told Business Insider that it is having trouble access the internet, due to down power.


GoFundMe and ConnectRelief

GoFundMe, a crowdfunding site, has compiled a list of verified campaigns collecting donations for victims of the storms. Most center around emergency relief.

Like GoFundMe, ConnectRelief is an online discovery platform that compiles information about relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The platform was started by a Puerto Rican nonprofit, and is working with other local Charity organizations, including ConPRmetidos.


Founded in 2003, GlobalGiving is a funding platform that helps people find causes they care about. Users select projects they want to support, make a contribution, and get regular progress updates.

The platform is hoping to raise $2 million for Maria victims through a relief fund, which will go toward emergency supplies like food, water, and medicine, in addition to longer-term support for recovery and rebuilding efforts.


Heart to Heart International

Heart to Heart International is a humanitarian organization that aids millions of people in more than 60 countries (including the US) every year. The Kansas-based nonprofit enlists volunteers and works with local organizations to make a high impact on the communities it serves.

It is mobilizing medical teams in Puerto Rico, and is asking for donations.

All Hands Volunteers

All Hands Volunteers works to address the long-term needs of communities affected by disasters. Over the last 12 years, the organization has enlisted over 39,000 volunteers who have helped 500,000 people worldwide.

The group has set up a relief fund, which concentrates on getting medical and water supplies to Hurricane Maria victims.



Since its founding in 1979, Americares has provided more than $13 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the US. It is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut and specializes in addressing ongoing health crises.

Americares is asking people to donate money to pay for medicine and emergency supplies — donations can be made online via this direct link.


Direct Relief

Direct Relief is California’s largest international humanitarian nonprofit organization. It provides medical assistance to help people affected by poverty and disaster in the US and around the world.

Direct Relief is shipping emergency medical supplies, including items like antibiotics, surgical devices, and wound-care products, to Maria victims.

For those who call Puerto Rico home, their world was taken from them. In addition to support from the U.S and surrounding countries. These affected people will need proper psychological help to get through this disaster. If you have a friend or loved one who has lost someone, be sure to offer help through this crisis with mental health support. There’s a “pressing need” to raise public awareness about how mental health may be affected after a disaster.



[1] 2017 is on track to be a record-setting year for massive natural disasters in the U.S.

Laura Santhanam – http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2017-track-record-setting-year-massive-natural-disasters-u-s/

[2] The Impact of Natural Disasters on the Global Economy


[3] Meteorologist Tweet In *less than one day* parts of Puerto Rico have received 24-36″+ of rain. For context: Houston had 32″ in *three days* during Harvey. https://t.co/5dWnxtEPTp

Eric Holthaus – https://twitter.com/ericholthaus/status/910732185069596672

[4] What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s hurricane disaster

Brian Barclay – https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/9/26/16365994/hurricane-maria-2017-puerto-rico-san-juan-humanitarian-disaster-electricty-fuel-flights-facts

[5] After Hurricane Maria, ‘There Is No More Agriculture in Puerto Rico’


[6] Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwalls Have Landed in Puerto Rico


[7] Tesla is fixing Puerto Rico because Donald Trump isn’t

Anthony Cuthbertson – http://www.newsweek.com/puerto-rico-tesla-donald-trump-silicon-valley-685558

[8] The best charities to donate to for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Leanna Garfield – http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-help-puerto-rico-hurricane-maria-2017-9/#the-united-funds-of-puerto-rico-1


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