In consecutive weeks, hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria each made landfall on U.S. soil, impacting American citizens from Texas to Florida to the Caribbean. Weeks later, for many, the situation remains dire, as resources have been stretched thin in the aftermath of back-to-back-to-back catastrophic storms.
Nowhere more so right now than Puerto Rico, where Category 4 Hurricane Maria slammed into the island with winds exceeding 155 miles per hour, wiping out a good portion of the island's major infrastructure, including the power grid, cellphone towers, and even the banking system. Two weeks later, running water is scarce across the island and nearly 95% of residents are without electricity, according to multiple sources. A reported 80% of the territory's crops have been wiped out, amplifying an alarming food shortage.
A press release from the Department of Defense on Tuesday shed more light on the burgeoning crisis in Puerto Rico, saying that "communications remain a challenge," as only 12.1% of residents had access to cellular service as of Wednesday afternoon. Furthermore, only 14 hospitals are currently operational.
The road to recovery is expected to be long for Puerto Rico, where the tourism-dependent economy is struggling under a mountain of debt. And although more than 10,000 federal aid workers have been dispatched, nearly all of the U.S. territory's 3.4 million residents need assistance recovering from the storm.
Every little bit helps, and while there is a need for supplies, most organizations– like Unidos Por Puerto Rico, a non-profit founded by Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Beatriz Rosselló — are asking for cash instead, so they can distribute whatever is needed to where it's needed, more quickly.
However, with many worthy organizations in need of assistance, it can be hard to know which groups to support – a sentiment echoed by Puerto Rico's Dylan Graves this morning when he took to the above Instagram post, writing, "We are all aware of the devastation and how the islands are in need of aid. Also hard to know which foundation or GoFundMe to support."
Graves continued by mentioning his work with the non-profit organization Waves 4 Water, which delivers water filtration systems to residents across the Caribbean, before he added, "Water is ESSENTIAL, vital for life. Power if off, there is limited cell service, gas lines are long…but we can survive without them. And at least with their water filtration systems communities can feel at ease with their water situation and focus on efforts to rebuild these beautiful islands."
If you are able to help with the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, we at SURFER encourage you to visit Waves 4 Water's Hurricane Relief Initiative page, here, and donate.