On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Vieques, Puerto Rico and caused wide-spread damage and destruction, leaving its residents without water, electricity or communication abilities. ViequesLove was formed on the night of the Hurricane with the intent to provide support in whatever way possible to help the island to recover and to have a more sustainable future. Our first priority was to communicate with people on the island by sending satellite phones in by a private plane. This communication led to the stark realization that help was not coming fast enough. ViequesLove would need to step into the role of providing immediate relief until federal aid arrived. Our team first tackled the job of getting a private plane to directly land on Vieques full of supplies and satellite phones to establish communication on and off the island. We formed a team working round the clock in the states and connected to our friends on the island who were doing the same and became our team on the island. But it was you, our donors, who enabled us to get help to the island right away and avert catastrophe.
Won’t you unite with us as we tackle the next phase of work? It will be slower and less dramatic, but essential to the long-term health of this little Caribbean island. In addition, building a 21st century infrastructure will produce a showcase for communities everywhere that are interested in energy independence, ecological preservation, adventure tourism, sustainable economic development, networked education, and a synergistic health-care delivery system. ViequesLove is committed to these ends. Please join us by donating now! Let us put your donation to work for our future.
Please let us put your donation to work for Vieques. Donate here through gofundme or send check to:
ViequesLove, po box 1108, Vieques, PR 00765.
ViequesLove is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. EIN #82-4435322 As of 11/1/18, ViequesLove began managing money from this GoFundMe directly as a 501(c)(3). We'll be forever grateful to our former fiscal sponsor COREFI for helping us administer funds from this campaign before that date.
Here is a sampling of our accomplishments to date:
ViequesLove landed a plane directly on Vieques five days after Hurricane Maria had passed, bringing satellite phones, cash and supplies. The up-link phones allowed residents to know that they were not forgotten, to call loved ones, and enabled first responders to communicate with each other and the outside world. Until that time, Vieques had been completely cut off from all forms of communication, both internally and externally.
Provided a Way.
Became the connecting link to citizens, press, medical assistance, elected officials, government agencies and groups wanting to help. The communication provided by the satellite phones instantly made ViequesLove the crucial link to Vieques when no other form of communication was possible enabling the long distance “handshake’ with those hands extended to help and the hands on Vieques ready to receive, coordinate and distribute. This net of donors across the states provided the backbone of our logistical challenge—while the sat phones and team on-island were the arms and legs making coordinating and receiving possible. ViequesLove also became a partner to agencies responsible for island infrastructure and could immediately acquire emergency pumps, parts, fuel and technicians for repairs to avoid potential disasters and health hazards. ViequesLove provided logistical and financial support to move over a million dollars of in -kind donations to the island and continues to be a friend to many of organizations assisting Vieques.
Stocked the hospital with medicine and supplies by landing a plane nine days after the storm. Evacuated 33 people, flew dialysis and cancer patients to Puerto Rico for treatment, provided nebulizers and insulin bags for asthmatics and diabetics and purchased oxygen machines and other medical equipment for those in need. Distributed approximately 190 generators to schools, community organizations and families with critical needs and medical equipment requiring power. Seventy-five of these were donated solar generators.
Helped Prevent Disaster.
Provided cash in what had instantly become – with no electricity -- an “all cash” economy. ViequesLove paid for fuel for police and emergency vehicles, for generators at the hospital, bought critical lifesaving medicine and ice for diabetics and the elderly center. Partnered with Generation Gives to provide satellite internet to restore ATM and food stamp service.
Provided critical needs.
ViequesLove was able to provide critical needs that were not being sent by other organizations effectively while not overlapping purchases. Mattresses, wheelchairs, vein finders, cisterns, nebulizers, insulin bags, mosquito nets, oxygen machines, solar radios, solar panels and generators are just a few of the items provided.
Established Collaborative preparedness programs.
ViequesLove has established a new net of communication programs to ensure the connection for the future. Along with a satellite phone network, ViequesLove has partnered with other organizations to create a HAM radio network allowing communication off-island as well as a web of VHF radios to connect agencies, individuals and fishermen (first able to respond) strategically over the island.
Works for a better tomorrow.
ViequesLove has been financially supporting many projects rebuilding or reinvigorating the economy. We have repaired the lower section of the Esperanza Sugarcane pier, partnered with Navarro Construction in repairing the fishermen’s pier and the Malecon, and financed the cleanup of many sites on the island including SunBay, Esperanza beach and La Parque de Ceiba. A substantial donation was made to Vieques en Rescate to add a cancer treatment center and to the Montessori school cafeteria rebuild. We support the rebuild and repair of damaged homes through HopeBuilders by providing monthly financial support for two full time workers. To date approximately 60 homes have been repaired.
See full list here:
MMEDIATELY POST HURRICANE:
• Because there was no electric power, the economy became “all cash” with most residents caught with little available currency. ViequesLove provided immediate cash through private loan for medicine, gas, ice, food, toiletries, nebulizers, car batteries, and accommodations for critical cases. This assistance continued for the purchase of gas for emergency management vehicles, police vehicles, and portable generators.
• ViequesLove sent in the first airplane, five days after the storm, filled with relief supplies, satellite phones, cash, and a team member to assist the ground team. The plane then evacuated a brain cancer patient on its return flight who needed to continue treatment in the States.
• Purchased and distributed satellite phones to enable and coordinate emergency communications on-island, with US and Puerto Rican governmental agencies, with other private relief agencies, and the rest of the world.
• Set up free call centers for residents on Vieques to make initial contact with loved ones elsewhere, and then periodically to update their recovery status.
• Paid certification training costs for new Emergency Management Personnel.
• Paid for cell phones and monthly cellular plans for Emergency Management and police to establish communication among themselves and with each other.
• Received a donation of the contents of a C130 military plane loaded with survival gear and hired a military disaster relief expert to help pack and accompany the plane to facilitate distribution on the ground.
• Purchased solar powered lighting for the Ferry Pier, Cayo, and FWS lighthouse to ensure the safety of nearby vessels traveling at night.
• Financially supported the non-profit “Generation Gives” which provided satellite WI-FI connections, allowing critical food stamp and ATM systems to restart, reducing cash needs.
• Working through numerous contacts in the media, gained important coverage for Vieques and established a case for our own critical needs even in the midst of the parallel disaster in the rest of Puerto Rico at large, which was overwhelming any attention that otherwise might have been directed to us.
• Became the intentional information hub through which other organizations could provide immediate help.
• Accepted and directed in-kind donations of all kinds of supplies for distribution through whatever existent organization was best positioned to be effective.
• Provided all the on-boarding agencies (FEMA, Tesla, Red Cross, National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and others) as they arrived and throughout their stay with no-cost translation services, local knowledge, and logistics.
• Traveled to Washington D.C to meet with elected officials and advocate for both accelerated and long-term electric power solutions.
• Initiated and funded a HAM Radio program in collaboration with Radio Vieques, William Patterson University, and KP4 operator Alberic Medina as a critical hedge against any future communications black-out.
• Funded a VHF Radio Program initiated by Que Fe Transforma.
• Pre-purchased minutes of use for four satellite phones in preparation for the 2018 hurricane season, just in case.
• Donation to Water Rescue Foundation for atmospheric water machine parts.
• Distributed hundreds of water filters donated by other non-profits.
• Supplied water to community groups for distribution across the island.
• Purchased pumps for the sewage treatment plant and paid for parts to keep those pumps operating.
• Wired $20,000 to the Food Bank of Puerto Rico enabling them to deliver shipments of food by ferry to clients on Vieques.
• Purchased numerous truckloads of rice, beans, meat, fruit, juice, and soup from Puerto Rican distributor and delivered to churches, Boys and Girls Club, Corefi, the Municipal Government, and Department of Familia to distribute to residents.
• Transported 40 pallets of MREs to Vieques and collaborated with Corefi for distribution.
• Supported El Blok, Bili, Fe Que Transforma, Boys and Girls Club, Corefi and Alianza Cristiana with food and hot meal delivery programs.
• Fully stocked the hospital with medicine.
• Evacuated 33 medically fragile, elderly, and asthmatic to mainland PR and the US.
• Paid for flights for dialysis patients for necessary treatment.
• Supplied health and hygiene products to the elderly and infirm.
• Purchased insulin coolers for diabetics.
• Provided promotion and logistical support for ongoing medical clinics.
CRITICAL NEEDS AND SUPPLIES:
• Paid for shipping and delivery of donated goods from Stateside to Vieques.
• Supplied numerous solar lights, tarps, tents, solar radios, and water filters.
• Purchased, shipped and delivered critical needs such as nebulizers, solar radios,
• wheelchairs, mosquito netting, extension cords, chainsaws, tools, baby items, insulin bags and more.
• Purchased wheelchairs, wheelchair batteries, oxygen machine, veinfinders and other essential medical equipment destroyed in the storm.
• Purchased a second shipment of medicine to stock the hospital.
• Purchased and delivered new mattresses to replace water damaged and moldy mattresses; acquired 95 additional donated mattresses.
• Donated generators, food and toiletries to set up a temporary refuge at Simmons School.
• Purchased pump for water company.
• Purchased drill for electric company.
• Supplied ladders and pressure washers to HopeBuilders.
• Supplied 73 solar generators to sick and elderly patients requiring life-support medical machinery.
• Purchased 64 additional gas generators for schools, community organizations, families with medical needs, and the hospital.
• Repaired electric and rebuilt meter at the house of the final resident to receive power more than 6 months after the storm.
• Paid for parts, oil, and maintenance for generators.
• Purchased parts to connect large island generators to gas supply.
• Purchased building supplies for homes in dire need, and collaborated with volunteers to help those who could not manage their own repairs.
• Paid for generator technicians to keep essential generators running.
• Screened windows and doors of schools against mosquito swarms.
• Supplied cisterns to the high school.
• Bought gas for school generator.
• Emergency cleaning supplies and health kits to schools.
• Paid for exterminating pest infestation in schools.
• Purchased equipment to supply internet in schools to assist teachers and administrators.
• Purchased lights for the outdoor sports court for high school.
SUPPORT TO OTHER NGOS:
• Supported the Montessori school rebuild of the cafeteria.
• Supported Vieques en Rescate cancer treatment facility.
• Purchased computers for the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust.
• Cleaned SunBay of storm debris.
• Repaired lower dock of Esperanza Sugarcane Pier.
• Collaborated on a campaign to restart tourism with Lewis Communications.
• Sponsorship to the annual Cultural Festival at Fortin Conde Mirasol.
• Paid for Finca Consciencia to attend Earthship workshop in Puerto Rico.
• Assisted in the rebuild of the Esperanza Fishermen’s pier.
• Funded repair of Esperanza’s Malecon and organized volunteer group painters.
• Ongoing monthly support to HopeBuilders for two full-time workers to repair damaged homes.
ONGOING AND FUTURE INITIATIVES:
• The removal of 20,000 tires from Vieques to a receiving facility in Puerto Rico.
• Monthly financial support to HopeBuilders
• Collaboration with agencies, other non profits and individuals to establish an island wide communication net
• School, student and educator pride campaigns
• Internet provided to schools while no other company is viable
• Establishing internet libraries at schools
As ViequesLove goes into the new year, there are many things in discussion such as providing grantwriting help to our not-for-profits to take advantage of post-Maria available grants, working with national architectural schools for design ideas for sustainability, supporting revitalization of the tourist economy though cultural and eco tourism campaigns, and continued collaboration with all organization working for Vieques. Stay tuned for more!
- Marsha Carlson
- Liz Chuang
- Sarah KREBS