The storm made landfall last week, cutting communications, flooding neighborhoods, demolishing homes, and wiping out crop fields. At its peak, Maria was a Category 4 storm with 155-mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center. At least 15 people have died because of the storm, and hundreds have been left homeless.
Puerto Ricans who live near a failing dam started evacuating last weekend, due to fears that it could break. An estimated 70,000 live in towns close to the dam, and according to local media, about 320 moved to safety. Most of the island (approximately 3.4 million people) is still without electricity and access to basic medical care, food, and water. Maria also knocked out 85% of phone and internet cables.
On Saturday, the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Cruz, told reporters that if Trump does not ramp up relief efforts, the situation could get even more dire.
“I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell,” Cruz said. “So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here … And if it doesn’t stop, and if we don’t get the food and the water into people’s hands, what we are going to see is something close to a genocide.”
Trump responded by slamming Carmen Cruz’ leadership.
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
You might be wondering how to help.
According to The Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), which is part of the US Agency for International Development, donating money is almost almost the best way to give aid. Before sending material goods (like blankets, food, or toys), the CIDI recommends confirming with relief organizations there is a real need for them. If you want to assist in person, nonprofits both international and local are looking for volunteers.
Below you’ll find a list of reputable Puerto Rico-based charity organizations to donate to, followed by larger nonprofits that operate on a national or global scale.
Note: It is not clear whether all these organizations will spend 100% of donations received on hurricane relief and associated expenses. But in past large-scale disasters, they have given high percentages of donations directly to victims, especially if there is a specific fund set up. To avoid scams, it’s always good to research a group before donating by checking scores from independents groups like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.
The United Funds of Puerto Rico
The Fondos Unidos de Puerto Ricois working with the Red Cross and United Way on relief efforts, including an emergency hotline service. The group was started by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Ricans in Action
Several local charities and food banks are partnering to raise $10,000 through the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund.
On October 7, all money raised will be given to Puerto Ricans in Action, a Los Angeles-based Puerto Rican group. They will then distribute the funds among local nonprofits to pay for food, medical supplies, clothing, social services, and other resources.
Friends of Puerto Rico
On September 30, the organization also announced that it will raise additional funds to rebuild centers run by the Boys and Girls Club in San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, Loíza, Isabela, Arecibo, Mayagüez, Aguas Buenas, and San Lorenzo.
The Center for Popular Democracy
The Center for Popular Democracy – located in Brooklyn, New York – has launched theCommunity Fund for Aid and Recovery of Hurricane Maria, which is focusing on aid for low-income communities of color, women, and girls in Puerto Rico.
Food Bank of Puerto Rico
The Food Bank (Banco de Alimentos) of Puerto Rico is asking for monetary and non-perishable food donations to distribute to Maria victims.
Feeding America, an organization based in Chicago, is also partnering with the food pantry. You can donate through either organization.
Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico
The Habitat for Humanity division in Puerto Rico is fundraising to rebuild homes and neighborhoods on the island.
Information on how to donate via wire transfer is on its Facebook page. The organization told Business Insider that it is having trouble access the internet, due to down power.
GoFundMe and ConnectRelief
Like GoFundMe,ConnectRelief is an online discovery platform that compiles information about relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The platform was started by a Puerto Rican nonprofit, and is working with other local Charity organizations, including ConPRmetidos.
Founded in 2003, GlobalGiving is a funding platform that helps people find causes they care about. Users select projects they want to support, make a contribution, and get regular progress updates.
The platform is hoping to raise $2 million for Maria victims through a relief fund, which will go toward emergency supplies like food, water, and medicine, in addition to longer-term support for recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Convoy of Hope
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based nonprofit that works to fight hunger around the world. Founded in 1994, the Springfield, Missouri-based charity also responds to disasters.
The group is sending a team to work with local partners and FEMA to distribute emergency supplies in Puerto Rico. The organization is asking people to donate on its website.
Heart to Heart International
Heart to Heart International is a humanitarian organization that aids millions of people in more than 60 countries (including the US) every year. The Kansas-based nonprofit enlists volunteers and works with local organizations to make a high impact on the communities it serves.
It is mobilizing medical teams in Puerto Rico, and is asking for donations.
All Hands Volunteers
All Hands Volunteers works to address the long-term needs of communities affected by disasters. Over the last 12 years, the organization has enlisted over 39,000 volunteers who have helped 500,000 people worldwide.
The group has set up a relief fund, which concentrates on getting medical and water supplies to Hurricane Maria victims.
Since its founding in 1979, Americares has provided more than $13 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the US. It is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut and specializes in addressing ongoing health crises.
Americares is asking people to donate money to pay for medicine and emergency supplies – donations can be made online via this direct link.
Direct Relief is California’s largest international humanitarian nonprofit organization. It provides medical assistance to help people affected by poverty and disaster in the US and around the world.
Direct Relief is shipping emergency medical supplies, including items like antibiotics, surgical devices, and wound-care products, to Maria victims.
If you have additional recommendations of local relief funds or organizations for hurricane-affected areas, please email me at [email protected]
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