This month has been rough. Back to school, back to work but with my attention divided as I watched not just one storm but two hit Puerto Rico.
I have a lot family still there including my mother. She and my immediate family are okay, safe and sound, even if their homes are not. We have been lucky to have nearly daily contact with family, while hundreds of thousands are still waiting to hear from their loved ones.
We hope to be able to evacuate her on Tuesday (if the airlines don't cancel her flights once again like they have twice already this month after Irma).
The island is devastated by this hurricane to an extent never seen by my generation and that of my mother's. There is no region of the island that is untouched, and everyone is working together to restore power, keep each other safe, despite damaged roads, shattered infrastructure (power and water are out to the whole island) and a barely functional phone system (80 to 85% of all cell towers in PR have been destroyed).
It is emotionally overwhelming but at the same time necessary to spend time combing the local news for information about conditions. Everyday there is another heart-breaking photo collection. Yesterday was seeing pictures of my Alma Mater, Wesleyan Academy or Watching a aerial video of our second home in Maunabo.
Many have asked me for ideas on how to help. Thank you, I know it is hard to take yet another disaster in, and I imagine lots of you are suffering from disaster fatigue
There are lot of good organizations on the ground already mobilizing to help.
This is a good listing of place accepting donations: https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/centrovoices/current-affairs/where-donate-help-puerto-rico-disaster-relief-and-recovery-hurricanes
However I know many people like to give tangible items:
A group out of DC (United for Puerto Rico) is coordinating with the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration Office and has created an Amazon Wish List, for items they are gathering to be sent down:
If you want to be even more personal, my cousin Virginia Rojas-Firpo is coordinating a care-package drive with the help of her cousin in Naranjito, a small town in the center of the island my mother's family is from and where they don't expect official help quite a while.
She shares a list of the most needed items and an address.
Most of all I just covet your attention to what is happening in PR and other Caribbean island once the news coverage ends and please share this with anyone who is looking for ideas on how to help.