Friends of Puerto Rico

All the worst of what you have heard about Puerto Rico is true.  As of me writing this on Oct 7th, 89% of Puerto Rico still does not have power, with areas expected to be without power for up to 1 full year.  44% still have no access to potable water.  20+% of food and gas distribution channels (roads and bridges connecting not only ports to dispensaries, but also for example, drivers to the trucks themselves and drivers to the gas they need to drive their own cars to the trucks, etc) are still heavily damaged in many areas.  85% of all cellular antennaes and towers are offline. Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are offline where the highest-risk populations are vulnerable.   You can find an updated status on the infrastructure and services in Puerto Rico here

Visually, the entire island, from what I can tell, doesn't have so much as a leaf on any of the trees (that were left standing).  Tourism for the high season will almost surely vanish.  Many small businesses will close and many more people will be without work in a place where unemployment was 14+% before the hurricanes hit. 

On a more personal level, the office where I run my company and everything in it was completely destroyed. 

Basically, the most concise way I have found to communicate the devastation to people is simply:  Everything is broken.

Propaganda from the president and the governor of PR is exactly that: propaganda.  To be sure, there is federal assistance, but it is paltry when compared to the scope of the crisis by any measure. David Begnaud does a great job of summarizing the situation here and is a great journalist to follow.

If there are two great things to come out of this, it's the incredible resilience and sense of community evident in the people of Puerto Rico, and the desire of people on the mainland to want to help.  It's an amazing byproduct of a dire and desperate situation, and gives me tremendous hope for the future of Puerto Rico.  Thank you to everyone in PR and elsewhere for staying strong and wanting to help Puerto Rico rise.  Puerto Rico se levanta!!!!

So, what can you do to help?

First, we need supplies and money.  Water purification, mosquito repellent and nets (standing fresh water is where mosquitoes breed), batteries, battery powered fans, generators, diapers and wipes, solar anythings, gas powered chain saws, organic fruit and vegetable seeds, and just plain money for people who have lost everything.  FEMA will help a little, although there is widespread skepticism about whether or not the people who need it the most will receive sufficient financial aid.  Having said that, wholesale delivery of the items listed would go a long way in helping the hardest hit communities.

Here are some shocking videos of the areas of Utuado, Aibonito, etc to show the level of devastation where almost all residents STILL have not been reached for aid and no one has seen or heard from FEMA or any government agency at all.

https://youtu.be/gcl-1sf824E
https://youtu.be/7MX0Bvi9dSs
https://youtu.be/sjRG_IhGgc0
https://youtu.be/FfWw2wjfl6s

Second, email, and most importantly call and write your Congress; demand an immediate and a powerful aid package for Puerto Rico that addresses immediate relief as well as infrastructure repair and demand the immediate and complete repeal of the Jones Act, which is an archaic legislation that strangles Puerto Rico with high tariffs and shipping costs for all goods imported to the island (including 84% of all food before the hurricanes).  A great description of the Jones act and how it has been hurting Puerto Rico for decades can be found here.  Another article from The Economist about how The Jones Act has hurt American consumers in general.  This is time consuming but FREE, and is incredibly important and not to be overlooked.

Third, DO NOT FORGET about Puerto Rico.  Events like the Las Vegas massacre, as awful as they are, serve as added suffering to the people of Puerto Rico as the attention paid to our crisis gets pushed to the back pages.  In a month, Puerto Rico will likely be barely mentioned at all in the media, but the road to recovery will last years.  Puerto Rico demands your attention and support for long past when the media will cease giving it airtime.

Fourth, DO NOT cancel your Puerto Rico travel plans.  If you had a trip planned to Puerto Rico this fall/winter and are thinking of canceling, please reconsider.  Our beaches are as beautiful as ever, and there is no shortage of airbnb hosts willing to work with you to make you comfortable.  Many hotels should be able to accomodate you with most facilities available by the time high tourist season kicks back off in late November.  Further, wouldn't it be great to repurpose your relaxing beach vacation as a humanitarian aid vacation, where you find a way to lend a hand to people in need?  PR needs you more than ever.

Finally, I am raising money.  As much as possible.  I have joined the courageous and truly impressive  Valerie Edmondson Bolanos in collaborating on the amazing work she's been doing in evacuating Puerto Rico's highest-risk populations in need of immediate medical attention and supplies and placing them in healthcare facilities stateside.  We are also providing transit for healthcare professionals and medical and general supplies into Puerto Rico all via charter flights in and out of the smaller airports around PR. Together we arranged for a last minute flight of stranded refugees in need of immediate medical care on Sat, Oct. 7th and I am excited to join her in an expanded capacity going forward.  It cannot be understated how she and her team of volunteers is truly saving lives in the most direct way possible.  For what it's worth, she assures me that the death toll (for those who put emphasis on such things) is easily in the thousands already and climbing.

I will be withdrawing the funds raised here and applying them to evacuation costs and goods delivery primarily, as well as goods themselves that I am able to deliver personally.

We are in the process of acquiring 501(c)(3) status for anyone interested in making larger capital contributions they wish to deduct from their taxable income.  Until the status is obtained, we can still accept such donations under the same terms.  PM me for details.

Money donated here will go 100% to supplies, transport and assistance as needed to Puerto Rico's most vulnerable citizens.  Our goal is to keep expenses at 0% of contributed capital using the goodwill of our volunteers and a high efficiency operation.  

Thanks to everyone for their love and support and I will provide frequent updates of progress made, delivery of supplies and assistance, and stories of Puerto Rico's Rise!  

You may contact me directly via text, email or phone with any questions.  While in PR, connectivity is difficult so WhatsApp tends to work best.

Puerto Rico se levanta!!!! 
  • Judy Kline 
    • $100 
    • 48 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 48 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 49 mos
  • Heather Hodgson  
    • $50 
    • 49 mos
  • John Dayman 
    • $50 
    • 49 mos
See all

Organizer

Brian Aronson 
Organizer
San Juan, PR
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