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The Diaspora Helps Rebuild Puerto Rico

Victor Martinez

Since September 20, 2017, Puerto Rico has become a different place than it was before. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the people of Puerto Rico are struggling with food, medications, and other basic needs. The situation is catastrophic, but there is hope on the horizon.

The Puerto Rican diaspora has united and demonstrated its great sense of community. Since the very beginning of this crisis, the diaspora has moved to help with supply drives, fundraisers, and the coordination of other events to help the island. As many members of the diaspora have said through social media: “I am here, but my heart is in Puerto Rico.”

Puerto Ricans from Oregon, Vermont, California, Illinois, New York, Arkansas, Florida, Colorado, Texas, and many other states have come together to help with the emergency that Puerto Rico is facing. In New York, organizations such as Acacia Network, Hispanic Federation, 32BJ SEIU, The Clemente, Teatro SEA, ASPIRA, Puerto Rican Family Institute, and many others have answered the call.

In Florida, a coalition called CASA has been created by 14 Hispanic, mostly Puerto Rican organizations, to assist in the collection of supplies and coordinate any other effort for the benefit of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans across other states have done the same, and the work that has been done has been heartening. In other states, Puerto Rican organizations and people have volunteered to coordinate supply drives.

The amount of help that has been sent to Puerto Rico is extraordinary, but it presents challenges. One of the biggest has been the transportation the supplies from the ports of Puerto Rico to those in need throughout the islands. Thousands of containers with supplies are still waiting to be distributed because there are not enough truck drivers to transport the amount of supplies being sent. With challenges such as this, stateside Puerto Ricans must coordinate the collection of materials being sent to Puerto Rico.

Government officials from the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) have teamed with Puerto Rico Rises (PRR) to help with the coordination of supply drives being made by stateside Puerto Ricans. PRR has created chapters in different states to coordinate efforts in those states. At the moment, PRFAA needs to inventory what has already been collected and its current status—for example, in storage, waiting for pick-up, etc. At the same time, they investigate transportation needs to see how they can assist.

The PRFAA is asking people to contact the leader of each chapter of PRR to ask how they can coordinate the transportation of supplies to Puerto Rico. Many of the diaspora are desperate to send supplies to the island, but this needs to be done in an orderly way, to guarantee that these supplies get to the people of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Centro will continue to update the community about what the diaspora is doing and how we can help our beloved Puerto Rico through its page Rebuild Puerto Rico.