Earlier this month, Hurricane Fiona, a category four storm, touched down in various Caribbean islands such as the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Puerto Rico before hitting eastern Canada.
Puerto Rico in particular was heavily impacted, however, has been overshadowed in the media by other news. Hurricane Fiona was a category one when it hit the island. On top of the already poor infrastructure, the lack of coverage has left many without power, food, water, and shelter for weeks now. Even if the relief efforts from the United States and local Puerto Rican government are not sufficient, there are still many ways you can help.
These power outages are due to the fact that the island's electricity is privately owned by LUMA Energy. The privatization of the entire island's energy source means there is inadequate communication between the company and the government, which is one reason why politicians are having trouble keeping their promises. Joanna Lopez, a senior in fashion media and marketing describes how this has impacted some of her family members in Naranjito, a small community in the northern mountain region of Puerto Rico.
“It's really just a lot of damage to goods, and not having electricity and a lot of their water runs on electricity,” Lopez said. “A lot of their homes in the beginning right after the devastation there was like four to five feet of flooding, everyone's things were ruined.”
It is evident that having access to electricity is vital, and it has been discussed among Puerto Rican politicians and citizens that something needs to change. Every time a storm as massive as Fiona comes along, there is devastation, lives lost, and millions of dollars that go into clean-up efforts. However, even during this stand-off between LUMA Energy and the people of Puerto Rico, there are still things you can do to help aid those affected by Hurricane Fiona.
One organization that allows you to donate money and supplies ranging from clothing to vaccines to vehicles is UNICEF USA. They transport goods and funds to people in need all over the globe. Even if you do not have much to give, they offer a way to start fundraisers on your own in your local community.
Lopez mentioned, “As a student, it is hard to want to help because I have no money, so what I have seen is just donations and community outreach programs.” She also talked about how the community has been helping each other out immensely by sharing supplies and meals within their community.
While UNICEF is great, they work on a large scale, aiding many different issues around the world. There are other smaller organizations you can donate to directly, such as Operation Blessing.
Operation Blessing focuses on receiving various donations, fiscal and physical, before sending volunteers.This is a non-profit Christian organization that gives out necessities such as water, food, clothes, and medical attention.
Other organizations local to Puerto Rico include: Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico, Together Puerto Rico, Hope Builders Inc., and Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico.
The medical care aspect of this organization is extremely important to highlight. In addition to residents being unable to access electricity, it is important to note that many of the hospitals could not either. Therefore, being able to receive proper medical care in the aftermath of the hurricane and storms to come could potentially save lives.
There are many ways to help those impacted by Hurricane Fiona. However, the first step is becoming educated and informed. By spreading awareness, more people will feel some sort of responsibility to take action.