Mario and Richie have always been the first people to lend a hand to others in their time of need. Now it is our turn to help them, as Hurricane Irma and now Hurricane Maria continue to have devastating impacts on their lives, and put them in very real danger.
The small island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, where Mario and Richie have made their home, had still not recovered from the destruction left by Hurricane Irma in early September. Now, just weeks later, Hurricane Maria delivered a more direct hit.
According to a spokesman for Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello "This is total devastation
Mario and Richie lost power and all contact with the outside world on Tuesday (Sep 19). Although they have (thankfully) been preparing and have a concrete house, they faced wind speeds of at least 155mph, heavy rain, storm surges, flooding and possible landslides.
We are hoping they both fare well. All we can do today is wait to hear from them. Yet even after the storm passes, the obstacles Mario and Richie face will be mounting.
Vieques is located off of mainland Puerto Rico, where residents rely on the mainland for many basic goods. Even under regular conditions, Mario and Richie are only able to get the majority of their food supply, building material, clothing and pet supplies by taking the ferry to the mainland.
Now, as the mainland also sustained incredible damage and ferry service to and from Vieques has stopped, basic resources such as food, water and fuel will remain scarce. Before the storm hit, Mario and Richie found themselves needing to buy basic necessities they would ordinarily purchase on the mainland for astronomical prices.
Electrical power is solely supplied to Vieques from the mainland, via infrastructure already in a fragile state ("degraded and unsafe
") prior to impact of hurricanes.
Hurricane Maria leaves 100%
of Puerto Rico without power. It could take days for the island to recover cell coverage and weeks or months for the island to regain power. Without power, basic necessities such as refrigeration becomes a huge issue, especially in the temperate Caribbean climate.
As many of you know, Mario and Richie have already persevered through numerous challenges in order to build their life and home in Vieques. Now, there is a very real possibility they could lose everything.
Until effects of Hurricane Maria pass and we hear from Mario and Richie, we will not know for sure what damage has occurred. However, since they were left with no power for a week after Irma, they lost much of their existing food supply and purchased ice daily to keep what food they did have from perishing. Repair expenses to date include a destroyed fence due a downed tree during Hurricane Irma. They will certainly have to face lost wages, medical expenses and cost of repairs to and around their home. And if they are left with no option but to evacuate, they will need a way to get out and a place to stay.
Please join me in offering much needed support to Mario and Richie during this time. They will be appreciative of any donation you can make.
Lastly, please also consider sharing this gofundme with your friends. Tell them stories about Mario and Richie, how kind-hearted and hard-working they are, how much joy and laughter they have brought to people (and animals!) around them.
Let us do everything we can to make their path to rebuilding lighter.
I will try to provide updates on Mario and Richie's safety and further needs as I receive them.
Thank you for your generosity.
Downed tree from Hurricane Irma
Grocery store on Sunday, September 17th