How to help those affected by Hurricane Maria

With thanks to Daniel Colon-Ramos from Ciencia Puerto Rico, we want to share with you ways you can help those affected by Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

 

Members of our community have been directly and indirectly impacted by the devastation caused by Maria. Many people have loved ones and collaborators who are in the midst of the crisis. Hurricane Maria has left 3.5 million people without power in the archipelago of Puerto Rico in a massive humanitarian crisis. Almost all of the population have no power and 75% don’t have water service at home; according to the Pentagon, 44% don’t have access to drinking water. Approximately 80% of the population do not have access to communication services, as landlines, cell towers and internet access are severely affected.

 

CenadoresPR and CienciaPR have collected and vetted ways of helping those affected, and kindly shared this information with us:

  • If people need to find information about family, friends or community in Puerto Rico, email the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) at maria1@prfaa.pr.gov or contact them at 202-800-3133 or 202-800-3134.
  • Another organization providing assistance to PRFAA is the Puerto Rico Family Institute at 212-414-7895.
  • Google has also activated its Google Person Finder
  • The American Red Cross has a  Safe and Well page, where survivors can register and post messages, and loved ones can search for registrants.
  • Those worried about missing friends or relatives with a serious health condition are encouraged to call the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767, so volunteers on the ground can follow-up.

 

They have also collected and vetted ways of aiding recovery:

  • Donations to vetted organizations
    1. People can donate to USVI Hurricane Recovery to help rebuild the battered US Virgin Islands, or to the Red Cross the help island nations recovering from the hurricanes in the Caribbean
    2. United for Puerto Rico is a 501(c)(3) developed by the office of the First Lady Beatriz Rossello. Funds will go directly to help rebuild homes.
    3. AmeriCares is a relief and development organization which provides health services to those in need, and is working with officials in Puerto Rico and USVI to stock emergency shelters with medical supplies.
  • CienciaPR has created this registration form (bit.ly/CienciaPRMaria) to help coordinate and disseminate offers of aid to scientists and students in Puerto Rico and other areas of the Caribbean, whose work has been affected by Hurricane Maria. As communication with Puerto Rico re-establishes, we will work with scientists in Puerto Rico to channel offers and requests for aid. We also published this list with more information that is relevant to the scientific community (https://goo.gl/5jSDVS).
  • Please advocate that the NIH and NSF provide assistance and deadline extensions for researchers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands impacted by hurricane Maria. Nothing has been updated on their websites with regards to hurricane Maria at time of writing (NSF, NIH).
  • Professional societies have ways for you to further help scientists affected: for example, ASCB has a forum for offering and requesting assistance; ASBMB has announced they are about to extend their hurricane grant program to those affected by Maria (currently set up for Harvey relief here, stay tuned to their Twitter account for updates @ASBMB). Please contact your professional society to see if there is assistance you can give through them.

 

We hope that other institutions will join us in committing to keeping a close eye on how events unfold and be ready to lead in assistance to academic colleagues and students in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean impacted by Maria, and we offer our assistance to use our expertise however we can in a collaborative way in future rebuilding efforts.

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