Puerto Rico Relief Efforts, Rebuilding, and How You Can Help

Toa Baja, Photo: Ricardo Arduengo AFP/Getty

It's been nearly a week since Hurricane Maria tore its way through my homeland of Puerto Rico and wreaked havoc leaving the entire island without electricity and clean water.  Without power and with all forms of communication down, families went days without knowing if their loved ones were alive and safe. I have friends who have yet to hear from their family members and it's been 5 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall. The fear and trauma of unaccounted loved ones is exhausting and heartbreaking. It wasn't until Saturday that my own family heard from our relatives living on the island. While they are alive and safe, like many others on the island, they have lost everything. 

Storm ravaged road in Toa Alta. Photo by: Ricardo Arduengo / AFP / Getty

Despite our President authorizing the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, resources have been slow getting to Puerto Rico leaving those on the island without the basic necessities of food, water, and shelter. Images of the devastation have been circulating all over social media and I am reminded of Kanye West’s infamous words after Hurricane Katrina to then President Bush “George Bush doesn’t give a fuck about Black people.” Many feel the same about Donald Trump who has yet to step foot on our island.

While other politicians like Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer have been critical of the lack of support and aid yet to be provided to Puerto Rico by our government, other politicians like NY Governor Cuomo, made it a priority to pay a visit to the island. Cuomo and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez flew on a donated JetBlue aircraft and arrived on the island with a plane full of supplies. Though the supplies weren’t  nearly enough for the 3.5 million people residing on the island Cuomo is the only politician who has made Puerto Rico’s plight a priority. And though there are massive relief efforts underway on the U.S. mainland being coordinated by grassroots organizations, celebrities, and everyday people desperate to help in any way they can, the infrastructure in Puerto Rico is so severely destroyed that there currently isn't any coordinated way to get the supplies to where they're needed most.