ON SEPTEMBER 20, 2017...
...everything changed for Puerto Rico. A hurricane of unprecedented strength destroyed much of the island, leaving the great majority of Puerto Ricans without power, water, communications and access to food. In response to the immense devastation created by Hurricane Maria, the Hispanic Federation (HF) convened government, community and philanthropic institutions and leaders to create the UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program.
The goal of our UNIDOS Program is clear: to serve the immediate and long-term needs of families and communities in Puerto Rico. To do so, the Federation has taken unprecedented action, helping to coordinate hundreds of donation drives in the U.S. mainland, distributing millions of pounds of food, water and essentials to those most affected by the storm, delivering emergency relief aid to the 78 hard-hit municipalities, and seeding 15 million dollars to support emergency relief and recovery projects throughout Puerto Rico. So much of this work has been made possible because people from across our nation and the world have stood shoulder to shoulder with us. In fact, we have received contributions from more than 175,000 people from all 50 states, every US territory, and from 23 countries around the globe.
To help heal, strengthen and uplift families and communities across Puerto Rico, HF has carried out the following actions:
- Chartered a plane two days after the storm hit and worked with the Office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to send 22 first responders to help with immediate relief efforts.
- Invested two million dollars to purchase food, water and other essentials for our people on the island. More than 6 million pounds of emergency provisions have been delivered to the 78 hard-hit municipalities in Puerto Rico.
- Worked with our community, government and philanthropic partners to coordinate twenty four relief aid flights to Puerto Rico, transporting essential supplies, medication, medical equipment, medical personnel and first responders.
- In partnership with Warrior Angels and Mindo Futures, we helped evacuate 160 patients in need of urgent medical care from Ponce to the U.S. mainland.
- Established communications with municipal mayors and suppliers on the island that specialize in collecting, packaging, and moving goods throughout Puerto Rico to create fast, reliable routes to hard-hit areas outside of San Juan.
- With the goal of purchasing and distributing 100,000 individual water filtration systems for households and classrooms across Puerto Rico, we worked with the American Federation of Teachers and Operation Blessing International to seed and launch Operation Agua.
- Distributed 2,400 water filters to families in Villalba, Utuado, Manati, Hatillo, Barceloneta, Juana Diaz and Santa Isabel.
- Seeded an initial $3.1M Fund to support grassroots nonprofits on the island.
- We have been at the forefront of local and national advocacy efforts urging the U.S. federal government to provide Puerto Rico the assistance it needs to recover and heal.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done to date, but we know so much more is left to do. The fact remains that an unbearable number of our families in Puerto Rico are still without power and remain without regular access to basic necessities like water, food and medicine. Recovery will take many years, but we are committed in every way possible to be a significant part of Puerto Rico’s renewal.
OF 78 PUERTO RICAN MUNICIPALITIES SERVED