How You Can Help Hurricane Victims in Puerto Rico

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Maria Olivieri removes a tree branch from her backyard a week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, on September 27.

It’s been just over one week since Hurricane Maria brought catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico, and much of the U.S. territory is still without electricity, water and cell phone service.

The powerful storm made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane on September 20, bringing winds topping out at 155 mph and torrential rainfall which has brought flooding. Initial damage estimates are between $40-85 billion, and many residents are pleading for help recovering from the storm, which has caused at least 59 deaths — 24 in Puerto Rico.

“Make no mistake, this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million US citizens,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said September 25, adding they need more help.

FEMA has responded by sending supplies via air daily, and several United States ships have been deployed to assist in the recovery along with members of the National Guard. But as of September 28, 90 percent of the island is still without electricity and cell phone service, and just 44 percent of Puerto Ricans have access to potable water.

Maria came just as Puerto Ricans were cleaning up from Hurricane Irma, which also caused widespread damage.

With Maria being the third massive storm to make landfall in the Atlantic within the past month, many are wondering how to help those in Puerto Rico. Check below on how you can lend a hand in the recovery effort:


Donate Money to Charities

One of the easiest ways you can help the relief effort in Puerto Rico is by donating money to a reputable charity. GuideStar has made it easy to view a list of charities with information about what they do and where the money specifically goes to.

According to CNN Money, some of the best charities to donate to Puerto Rico include Catholic Relief Services, UNICEF, United for Puerto Rico, Center for Popular Democracy and more. To see the full list, click here.

Text Message Donations

Some charities have made it even easier to donate by enabling text-message donating. However, some advise against that because many cell phone providers don’t release the money immediately. The quickest way to ensure your money gets to the proper place is by giving on the charity’s website or directly.

But if you desire to use your cell phone to donate, text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross. You can also donate to the Hispanic Federation by texting your donation amount and your name to 41444.

Crowdfunding Campaigns

There are also a number of crowdfunding campaigns that have been started to bring relief to those nations affected by the hurricane.

On GoFundMe, a campaign has already raised over $250,000 to assist in the cleanup. Click here for more information on the campaign.

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Future NBA Hall of Famer Tim Duncan is looking to raise $5 million to help the Virgin Islands and those affected by the multiple hurricanes. So far, he’s raised close to $3 million of the goal. Click here for more information on Duncan’s campaign.

Dominica was also ravaged by the storm, with nation-wide blackout taking place after Maria. Click here to donate to the Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund.


Donating Food, Water & Material Items

If you prefer to donate goods such as food and water, you’re also able to do that. Check the document above to see some of the items most needed in Puerto Rico. To make those donations, there are numerous drop-off locations throughout the U.S.

In New York City, the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization will be hosting a donation drive Saturday in the Bronx. The charity event is looking for donations of clothing, non-perishable foods and other donations. Click here for more details.

In Florida, The Puerto Rican Leadership Council is collection food and water donations at various locations. To see the list of locations, visit the organization’s Facebook page by clicking here.

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Check with your local nonprofits to see if there’s a need for goods donations.


Donate Blood

The Red Cross accepts blood donations year round and are seeking them for the Puerto Rican recovery effort. The organization said that there’s a current need for platelet and type O blood.

To set up an appointment to donate blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


Volunteer

The Red Cross is looking to send volunteers out to the island to aid in the recovery. As a volunteer, you would be loading and unloading trucks, serving food, helping shelters, providing comfort and more. To start the volunteer application process, use this form.

Habitat for Humanity is also seeking volunteers to help clean up the mess Maria brought. To sign up through the organization and for more information, click here.

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In addition to those options, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster are also looking for volunteers. To find out more information on how to apply, click here.


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