Albuquerque Vets for Puerto Rico
Myself and another ex-soldier are traveling to Puerto Rico on the 7th to hand out supplies. It is our intention to land in San Juan and to be transported as far as road conditions will allow and then trek to the smaller communities that have no means of being reached by road to hand out everything we have. Once we have given all that we can, it's our goal to clear roads as much as we can using hand tools (Fuel is scarce and there is no power). We have several hand operated winches to do this.
Why are we doing this?
Puerto Rico is still without power. Power restoration to residential areas is not promised anytime soon - (at least 6 months in most cases). If the Guajataca Dam fails it will flood the homes of at least 70,000 Americans. If you have ever had a nightmare about you and your family becoming homeless; there is no comparison for being homeless in a rainforest environment.
What Do We Need?
Funds will be used for the following items:
LifeStraws - Purifies water off the ground and good for 1000 liters.
Mobile/solar power banks - Of the 1,600 cell tower on the island 1,360 are knocked out. Restoring radio communication on the island is one of the largest priorities. When communication is restored there will still be no power for people to use their cell phones. These banks will allow town to communicate again and give communities the ability to report their sick, wounded or emergencies. These charge any USB style devices to include Handheld radios, flashlights, etc.
First Aid Kits and Common Medicines - People are sick and can't get the medicine they need. Common medicines such as ibuprofen and Tylenol can be life savers until supply has been restored. - especially children dosage.
Military Rations (MREs) - They don't expire and are calorie heavy. These can keep the hungry fed with minimal preperation.
Our mission was a complete success. I want to thank the national guard unit in Utuado for all the Intel and support they shared with us to best direct our efforts and for handling the emergency cases we were able to report. Puerto Rico is working so hard to stand back up.
I will update with our full story and video footage on Monday as to our relief effort. Data cell coverage is limited to San Juan. Power is limited to car and solar chargers and I'm still not home yet.
It has been a little while since I have released an update. There will be more when I return.
We arrived at the gate this morning at 4. While all the other travelers we have been paired up with in terminals and planes have been a mix of people. We are now obviously with other Puerto Ricans now. Its not a generalization based on color or accent; it’s because they are the ones trying to check in generators. While Delta is doing what it can to accomadate – they had to stop taking check-in bags this morning. There were many passengers that this negatively affected and some looked panicked. Their bags are not just bags anymore – they are improvised with additional attachments – anything they can get through the gate. So far, we have been well received and already gave a solar power bank out to a gentleman that looked like he could use it. His name is Carlos and he is return to his home with his wife. We also met a gentleman named Raphael who is a CEO for a school that specializes in hearing disabilities. I can feel the excitement of our help is on the way philosophy begin to fold a little under the pressure of how many people in Puerto Ricco might need help. It’s the nature of things I suppose – you become passionate to help and its so hard to make the decision on who you should help vs who will be fine on their own. I am on the plane now – it has wifi and this may be my last update until we leave Puerto Rico.