On Tuesday night, Hurricane Fiona intensified into a Category 4 storm slamming into the Turks and Caicos Islands and leaving massive destruction across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The gusty hurricane sustained raging winds of up to 130 miles per hour and peaked at 155 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center reported on Wednesday.
Many residents are without electricity and water
Puerto Rico felt the brunt of Fiona on Sunday after the storm ripped through the island causing catastrophic flooding and critical water damage. Nearly 3.1 million residents on the island were left without power after the storm settled. According to CNN, as of Tuesday, only about 300,000 customers have had their power restored.
Two deaths were reported following the chaotic storm. A 58-year-old man was swept away by flooding and a 70-year-old man died after his power generator burst into flames as he was filling it, the outlet noted.
Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi said “a large portion of the population” will have power restored by late Wednesday with the exception of the island’s southern region, which was hit by severe damage.
However, in addition to power, residents are also struggling to access clean water in Puerto Rico. As of Tuesday morning, 60 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents were without water.
“[Being without] power, you know, we can face that and we can deal with that. The biggest concern is with our water. Can’t live without water,” Carlos Vargas, a resident of the island told CNN.
Emergency crews are trying to get aid and necessities to people, but flooding and dangerous mudslides have caused challenges. Multiple reports state that water damage has blocked parts of the power grid needed to restore electricity on the island. Severe flooding is also impacting people who live in remote areas, where supplies are critical to residents. Over 1,200 people in Puerto Rico were housed in temporary shelters on Tuesday in an effort to combat the issue, the governor said.
The difficult storm comes as Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. The category 5 storm ripped through homes, killing thousands and leaving residents with severe infrastructural damage that many are still trying to repair years later.
Residents urge people to donate to community-based organizations
Now, some humanitarian activists and residents on the island are urging people to donate to organizations to help those in need of life-saving resources, but many citizens are asking for people to avoid giving donations to the Red Cross and FEMA, as both organizations have had a checkered past of misappropriating funds and resources in times of distress on the island.
One Twitter used warned that donations would not “actually make it to PR,” if people sent funds directly to both agencies.
Instead, community activist Anna Maria urged people to donate to trusted local organizations. Here are a few community-led organizations you should consider donating to in order to help the people of Puerto Rico.
Brigada Solidaria del Oeste – They’re collecting monetary and item donations. You can send financial support via Pay Pal to (email@example.com)
The Fundación Mochileando – A collection centre in San Juan – Tues-Sat, 9am-4pm, they’ll have a setup—incl. parking—for folks to drop off supplies for both people and animals. While items are preferred, you can send funds to paypal.me/mochileando.
Taller Salud – A feminist mutual aid org currently coordinating hurricane relief. Donate directly via PayPal at shorturl.at/dmuxY or tallersalud.com.
Ayuda Legal Pr – A legal organization that is donating money to help support residents in need. Donate funds to their Paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundación Pisadas de Amor – Provides aid to senior citizens and their families— including food donations and home repairs.
World Central Kitchen – An organization that provides meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. They are currently accepting donations to help get people food to the residents of the island.
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