Here's How to Support the People of Puerto Rico Right Now
Hurricane Fiona caused flooding and destruction to the island just five years after Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico as a category one hurricane on September 18. Blackouts have blanketed the island, and flood waters and high-speed winds have caused a yet-to-be-determined amount of damage. Now, as the people on the island attempt to recover from the storm, the organizations on the ground leading the efforts will benefit from everyone's support.
Here's what you need to know and where you can donate.
Where to Donate
While not every humanitarian organization—or even government organization—is on the up and up, there are plenty of nonprofit organizations on the ground in Puerto Rico that are making a direct and immediate impact for those who are affected by Hurricane Fiona. Below is an incomplete list of Puerto Rico organizations that you can support.
This community-based feminist organization is responding directly to the needs of the community. Taller Salud is currently distributing essentials to people affected by the storm, including everything from non-perishable foods and solar-powered lanterns to gas, water, and over-the-counter medications. You can follow Taller Salud's work on Instagram, where information is available in English and Spanish. You can donate via PayPal or the Taller Salud website.
Founded after Hurricane Maria, the María Fund was formed in response to the many needs that arose from the crisis. Now, the organization "is one of many leaders in Puerto Rico's social justice movement," according to the site. This fund does everything from meeting immediate short-term needs to investing in longer projects involving everything from social justice to infrastructure. You can donate through the María Fund website.
This non-profit focuses on the social development of marginalized communities in Puerto Rico through education and poverty alleviation. Now, Sin Límite is collecting physical and cash donations to redistribute assistance to communities in need. You can make donations through the Sin Límite website.
Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico
This organization is working to eradicate hunger through collective work and the socialization of resources. Founded in 2013, the organization has a long history of directly supporting and advocating for Puerto Ricans. You can donate through the organization's website or directly through PayPal.
Brigada Solidario del Oeste
Formed in the wake of Hurricane Maria, this mutual aid group has done everything from assisting with storm recovery to organizing against corrupt politicians. They are collecting donations and supplies to give directly to people affected by the storm. You can donate through PayPal by adding the email address email@example.com.
The mission of this organization is to support the development and self-sufficiency of women and LGBTQ+ people in Puerto Rico. The group offers economic and housing development. "Like five years ago, everything that reaches Matria as a donation will reach the people we serve. Especially women, LGBTTIQ people and rural communities," the group wrote on Facebook. "We don't work alone. That's our power." You can donate through the Proyecto Matria website.
El Foster Club
This organization finds foster homes for pets in Puerto Rico. You can donate directly to help with El Foster Club's aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona via ATH Movil business at Elfosterclub and through Venmo with the user @ElfosterclubPR.
This list is incomplete and will be continuously added to as the situation evolves. Currently, Hurricane Fiona has upgraded to a category four hurricane and is headed toward Bermuda. If you want to continue to learn more about the ongoing struggles the people of Puerto Rico face, take some time to understand how Hurricane Maria still shapes the archipelago today.
Important Context on the Crisis
Five years ago, Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico, causing destruction and devastation that those who weren't directly affected still can't fully comprehend. The deadly category five hurricane was the worst storm to hit the island in recorded history. That remains true even after Hurricane Fiona. The damage caused by Maria is still felt, though, as the island lost power, and the electrical grid run by the privately owned company LUMA Energy continues to be poorly managed and unreliable.
The lack of electricity and clean water, coupled with floods, landslides, and 85-mile-per-hour winds, has once again left the people of Puerto Rico in a precarious situation with too few resources. And while Hurricane Fiona started this destruction, it is not the only reason about three million people reported going without power after the storm passed. Unfortunately, Puerto Ricans are tax-paying U.S. citizens without any of the limited benefits that come with that.
In the video below, you can hear people dealing with the issues facing Puerto Rico speak about their experiences.
The island is a tax haven for wealthy Americans, where people move to take advantage of the once-cheap rent and land, guaranteeing that many of those who have always lived and worked in Puerto Rico will be priced out. And while tax evasion, corporate greed, corrupt politicians, and colonialism aren't capable of drawing forth a hurricane on their own, those factors certainly guarantee the impact of any coming storm to be much worse.
None of these circumstances—the destruction, the gentrification, the corruption, the greed—are things Puerto Ricans have accepted or been silenced by. Long before Hurricane Maria and certainly after, people took to the streets protesting the conditions the government accepted for them.
All of this may feel tertiary to the current crisis at hand—millions of people still don't have power in Puerto Rico as of this writing, and at least four people have died—but it isn't. Understanding the circumstances that have created this crisis, beyond flood waters and high-speed winds, is essential in supporting the island's people.