How to Help Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria, the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the United States, roared through Puerto Rico last week, flattening the island. The 3.4 million Americans citizens who live there had homes destroyed, streets flooded, power grids decimated, widespread internet outages, and dams teetering on the brink of collapse, leaving Puerto Rico in shambles. The bulk of the island doesn’t have water to drink and can’t even call for help because only 25% of cellphone towers survived the storm.

“There’s a humanitarian emergency here in Puerto Rico,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told the Associated Press. “This is an event without precedent.” The current U.S. president finally tweeted about the island’s plight, and did order federal assistance to the island, but has been slow to send a financial plan to Congress. In fact, the White House isn’t expected send Congress a plan for a week or two. Celebrities are rushing to the cause—J. Lo donated $1 million, for instance—but  there is a lot more work to be done to help our fellow citizens.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. In Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico’s first lady Beatriz Roselló set up Unidos por Puerto Rico to connect the private sector to those in need. Donations can be sent in a variety of ways, including PayPal.
  2. Another option in Puerto Rico is ConPRmetidos, which shifted its focus from innovation to helping victims of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. They are accepting donations here.
  3. In the New York area: The Hispanic Federation teamed up with New York politicians including the mayor and members of Congress to launch “Unidos”: A Hurricane Relief Fund for Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico, which will give 100% of its proceeds to hurricane relief and recovery efforts. Per the website, to donate via text, text to number 41444. Type UNIDOS (space) YOUR AMOUNT (space) and YOUR NAME. (For example: Unidos 100 John Doe) Then press “send” and click on the link to complete your donation. Or just donate here.
  4. In the Miami area: The Puerto Rican Leadership Council is accepting donations of nonperishable food, water, and clothing at several locations. The Miami Herald has the details.
  5. In the Philadelphia area: Nonprofit group El Concilio has launched Unidos PA Puerto Rico to raise money for hurricane relief.
  6. Around the country: the Salvation Army is accepting hurricane relief donations.
  7.  GoFundMe created a central page for Hurricane Maria relief campaigns, check it out here.
  8. Volunteer disaster relief organization All Hands needs help rebuilding in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  9. Hurricane Irma and Maria response group AmeriCares said they are working with officials in Puerto Rico to stock emergency shelters with medical supplies. This is in addition to their airlift of $1.8 million worth of medicine and supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  10. Crowdfunding site GlobalGiving, which connects donors to nonprofits and companies around the world, will focus on immediate needs of victims and on longer-term recovery efforts “run by local, vetted organizations,” per the website.

Don’t just give to give, though. Do a little research. Charity Navigator is a good resource for picking the right charity.