Dear Family and Friends:
So many have asked how my family is doing in Puerto Rico and how you can help. It has given me hope during this very difficult time. Here is an update and ways you can help.
I've received word that both mom and both sides of my family are accounted for. However, the situation there is more dire each day. Post Hurricane Maria reports and photos confirm that our town, Ciales, is a total loss...damaged homes, stripped vegetation, flash flooding, risk of mudslides, massive infrastructure damage, but lives intact.
After seven days of seeing the worst case scenarios on the internet and news (plus little sleep, biting my nails, crying, and giving myself an ulcer) mom finally called and confirmed our fears. This island is completely devastated. The island as she knew it for so many decades no longer exists. Hearing her voice crack multiple times made me realize just how bad things are for them. There is no running water, electricity, or cell coverage on most of the island, and certainly not in the mountains where my family lives. A cousin waited hours in line at the local gas station to get $10 of rationed gas to take my mom and family members to the airport. Mom said the long drive gave them a chance to see other parts of the island and left them speechless. The airport is partially open and running at low capacity. Flights can only arrive and depart during daylight hours (no electricity for the runways) and availability is limited. The soonest flight out they could get is set for Monday, October 2nd, but that could change.
My family there is extremely resourceful and resilient. They live simple but very full and happy lives. However, they won't make it through this recovery alone and things are certain to be in need in the weeks and months again. Already water is in low supply in a neighboring town Manati. In a million years they would never ask...but you've asked what you can do and I know they would appreciate the help.
Immediate needs include:
Cash, batteries, water, coolers, battery run light sources, aspirin, ice, ice makers, non perishable food, disposable plates, plastic ware, napkins, wipes, and other things to provide comfort in this time of need.
In the short and long term, needs include:
Cash, rebuilding supplies, gift cards, and similar.
That said, there are three ways you can help my mom, family, and our fellow citizens:
1. Consider a financial donation though our Go Fund Me family link:
This would get direct cash and supplies into the hands of my mom, uncles, aunts, and relative the second electricity is running.
2.Consider dropping off or mailing supplies to my home.
3942 N Lowell Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
I have boxes on the porch and will sort supplies to ship to Puerto Rico the second USPS, FEDEX, or UPS open up distribution. Right now many roads are blocked and bridges collapsed and service to the island is temporarily stopped.
3. Consider donating to a non-profit like United for Puerto Rico unidosporpuertorico.com or One America Appeal at https://www.oneamericaappeal.org
Below you can see photos of before an after. You'll see my Aunt Luisa and Cousin Cuca's homes before and after the hurricane (orange house painted gray in the recent years). Because of damages sustained, my mom and many family members are crowded in the gray home. Also included are before and afters of a photo major bridge in our city. Widespread infrastructure damage like this makes it difficult to navigate to places or get relief. The woman in the last photo chopping a coconut is my cousin Cuca - her home is the one without the roof.
We cannot begin to adequately express our gratitude for your comforting words, thoughts, and prayers. For now, gracias will have to do!
Casey Garcia-Hooks on behalf of The Garcia-Mendez Family
PS - I'll send update when we get additional information and with information on where donations and supplies are sent.
#cialesvive #cialesselevanta #puertoricoselevanta #peoplehelpingpeople #ittakesaGIANTvillage
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