My family lives in the small town of San Jose, near Quebradillas where Hurricane Maria passed through. A large dam up hill to the south at Lake Guajataca has been damaged and is flooding the lands below it.
Luckily my father and extended family have been able to get word back to us that they are alive and well. Their homes are damaged, but are relatively high up and probably not vulnerable to the flooding. However, they are in immediate need of water, food, and other supplies to clear roads and rebuild their homes. Some of my family and many others on the island need transportation to "the states" to stay with family here or receive medical attention.
It is expected to take months before power is restored to the island. People who choose to stay behind on the island will need supplies to camp out and basic essentials to live off of. Cash is tight as banks are not working, social security checks are not getting delivered, and emergency funds have been tapped.
One of our cousins has a pilot's license. He has chartered a cargo plane out of Daytona Florida to take water, food, cash, and supplies to the island and to bring back some of the most vulnerable. He would like to make a flight every week until the regular infrastructure of commercial flights and mail delivery continue. Each flight costs about $15,000 for the charter, the fuel, and the supplies.
I will do my best to make sure this money is spent directly to help Puerto Ricans affected by the devastation on the island. Money from this campaign will first be withdrawn into my personal checking account and then used for purchases and donations. Some of that will be to help fund the next cargo flight to the island. Some of that will be to purchase commercial flights for my family. Some of it will be used on cleanup and rebuilding efforts. I will document here every purchase and donation I make.
I will be spending a lot of our own money to help our family. That's what we do. We're blessed to have the means to help.
I've created this GoFundMe because I know many of my friends, family, and coworkers are looking for a way to help out. I know many of you are wary of traditional charities with bad records of actually using the money they raise to help those in need. I will have direct access to people in need and the people on the ground helping them out. I want to make the best use of my own money to help. I'll be able to put your money to good use as well.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, kind words, and generosity.
I want to make sure I answer GoFundMe's 4 questions as clearly as possible:
1. Who you are and where you’re from
I am Jason Coleman from Reading, Pennsylvania
2. Your relationship or contact to the parties you're raising funds for
My father, step-mother, uncle, and other extended family live in Puerto Rico. We will be focused on charities and efforts that target the west end of the island, which is particularly rural and vulnerable after the hurricane and hardest to get help too.
3. How the funds will be spent (be specific as possible)
The primary charity we are working with is the Pirate Surf Club. This is a group out of Quebradillas, PR that previously worked to setup action sports events and other events on the island. They are focused now on relief efforts specifically targeting Quebradillas and the surrounding area. http://piratesurfclub.org/
We're looking into other opportunities such as:
* Paying to ship supplies from Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico or Florida (where it can be loaded up for PR).
* Paying for flights for doctors and other relief workers looking to get to the island.
* Paying for flights for vulnerable people trying to leave the island.
* Sending money to the island in ways that it can be distributed.
4. Your withdrawal plan to get the funds from the campaign to the ultimate beneficiary/ies
* Money will first be withdrawn into my personal checking account
* From there, we will send checks or bank transfers to the charities we fund.
* We are purchasing supplies directly and having them shipped to drop off locations.
* We will purchase flights directly on behalf of others.
* We may send cash to people on the island that we can trust to use it for supplies, flights, or to distribute. When cash is distributed, we will save records of how much and to whom.
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