Help Us with March Expenses!

September 20, 2017, was a day that I’ll never forget. It was the day my hometown of Utuado, Puerto Rico, felt the full fury of Hurricane Maria. Utuado saw severe wind & rain, devastating mudslides, and horrific river flooding. Certain areas were decimated to the point where nothing now remains.

During this time, I had no way of knowing what happened to my family. For five months, I did not know whether they were dead or alive. For five agonizing months, their whereabouts were unknown. I felt like I was mourning deaths without having a tomb to visit or a place to direct my sorrow.

In February of 2018, I got word that my sister and 95-year-old aunt were safe, but their homes were destroyed. My heart wept with joy, but my joy was tempered. Because by this point, the Puerto Rican community knew that hundreds, possibly thousands, had died because many, many people were still unaccounted for. We knew this because many of us went to Puerto Rico searching for our missing family members. Some remained missing, other were already buried, and still others were relocated to shelters and had no way of reaching out to their families in the United States.

Hurricane Maria destroyed or damaged over 300,000 homes and left more than 3 million people without power, cell phone service, clean water, food, medicine and with limited fuel, and created an estimated $94 billion dollars in damages. It devastated the two pillars of Puerto Rico’s economy: agriculture and tourism. The death toll in Puerto Rico is still unknown. Estimates range from 2,975 to 4,645. More than 400,000 people left the island, and those who remain are dealing with depression, post-traumatic stress as well as  huge spikes in suicide and violence.

FEMA’s response to the disaster was incompetent at best. They were completely unprepared for the massive response that was needed. And now, Puerto Rico’s recovery is being hampered by archaic laws, government bureaucracy, and corruption.

And now, adding insult to injury, the current government is delaying access to 1.5 billion dollars in emergency aid promised to Puerto Rico. So the island is still waiting for emergency aid two years after the hurricane. Aid that is needed to rebuild infrastructure, roads & buildings.

All of these things compelled me to organize the People for Puerto Rico event happening on Saturday, September 21st, 2019. Since January of this year, I have been planning the People for Puerto Rico: Marching Forward event. There are Puerto Ricans coming from not only across Pennsylvania, but New Jersey, Delaware & New York. I have been fundraising since for several months by selling T-shirts. But we are currently 3,000.00 short of our goal.

Expenses for our event include: paying for bus transportation; tent, chair & table rentals; port-o-potties, equipment such as walkie talkies & bull horns; refreshments for our volunteers;  fees for musicians; and helium.

Please consider contributing to our GoFundMe account.


Karen Rodriguez, Lead Organizer
The People for Puerto Rico
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Laura Rose
Northampton Township, PA

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