It is in times of need that we discover the full impact of a community united. The power of that unity was on full display when Puerto Rico was hit with a record-breaking hurricane, one that demolished houses, swallowed businesses and sunk neighborhoods in waist-deep water.
Tuesday, March 20th marks the sixth-month anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years; one that paused life for 3.4 million people and caused up to an estimated $98 billion in damages. Immediately after the storm, Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico (United Way Puerto Rico) was on the ground mobilizing resources, providing emergency shelter, and working with partners to deliver generators and other necessities to municipalities on the island.
Since then, a lot of progress has been made. Support has been provided through 2-1-1, a 24/7 helpline that connected more than 800,000 people with disaster-related assistance during the series of hurricanes last fall. We also created funds to support the short- and long-term recovery and relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the earthquakes in Mexico and wildfires in California. In total, our funds have raised nearly $80 million. Through our Hurricane Irma/Maria Recovery Fund, specifically, the United Way network raised nearly $13 million, supporting those communities in the southeast U.S. and the Caribbean affected by the hurricanes. We’re making progress, but there’s still more to do.
Right now, hundreds of thousands of people in Puerto Rico are still without power. In many places, access to food and water is limited, hospitals and schools are debilitated, and banking is non-existent. Still more support is needed to ensure the long-term stability of Puerto Rico and other areas devastated by the natural disasters. You can help by learning more about our disaster recovery funds, which make it easy for people to contribute. You can also reach out to your local United Way to see if they’re doing anything to help with recovery efforts, and lend a helping hand.
Make a mark by supporting the health and growth of those communities impacted, as well as the people who live there. Because when we LIVE UNITED, anything is possible.