Hurricane Maria Recovery

Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico on September 6, 2017. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria hit the island, compounding the damage from Irma and creating new problems. Puerto Rican partners are responding to needs across the island.

Reverend Miguel Antonio Morales, General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico (ICDCPR) summarizes the ministry of the ICDCPR during these past months in simple words: Pastors have become social workers in the midst of this crisis. The crisis has many effects: from damaged houses to psychological needs; from food supplies to medical and mental illness; from roads and stoplights to basic public services such as electricity and running water.  At this moment, more than three months after the passing of María, 45% of the island still has no electric service at all.  The remaining 55% has service that has been restored, but not permanently. Repairs have been affected by the scarcity of materials, workers and financial resources needed to move ahead. Global Ministries welcomes gifts designated for the recovery work being carried out by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico.

The United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico (UECPR), also a Global Ministries partner church, has been working closely with its health ministry there, Ryder Hospital.  Ryder Hospital´s staff confirmed the losses of the Hospital, valued at 15 million. All the equipment got wet as a consequence of the heavy rain and flooding.  Insurance is covering most of the expenses; and Ryder is working to finalize the claim, but the insurance does not cover the deductible, estimated at $500,000. At this moment, the Hospital´s Alzheimer unit and the Home for the Elderly are functioning with a power plant borrowed from the Corps of Engineers.  As a consequence of the damages from the hurricane, the Hospital lost a huge inventory of supplies and basic equipment in order to serve its patients and the broader community. 

Still needed are basic medical supplies such as first aid kits, gauze, bandages, and alcohol, as well as equipment for everyday therapies to deal with conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart conditions and so forth. Global Ministries welcomes gifts designated for the recovery of Ryder Hospital through the UECPR. Be sure to add Ryder Hospital to the Project/Partner box if giving online.

Twenty out of the 65 UECPR churches suffered damages. The denomination is supporting 100 families that lost their houses.  In addition, they are carrying out community–based work in Utuado, Jayuya and other places in the central part of the island. In these communities, the UECPR is providing funds to prepare food for 1,000 persons.  The UECPR also confronts problems with communications and electric power on their Central Offices.  Now they have a power generator.  The Reverend Edward Rivera, UECPR´s General Pastor, has been coordinating the efforts in solidarity with the congregations and communities. Global Ministries welcomes gifts designated for the recovery work being carried out by the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico.

The Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (SEPR) reports structural damages to the property, mostly from wind and flooding.  SEPR is open on a part-time basis.  Almost all the trees are down, except for a historic Ceiba, that is now in the process of renewing itself.  Student housing was affected, especially on the roofs, siding, and windows.  Some of the apartments that the SEPR rent as a sustainable project were affected too.  The SEPR chapel was damaged by the wind, as were the classrooms and common shared facilities.  SEPR is providing special scholarships for their students in order for them to deal with the needs of their local congregations as well as their families.  Also, SEPR has provided food for public employees that are working on repairs in the nearby community of Río Piedras, as well as for students from the University of Puerto Rico, a neighboring public university. For more details on SEPR and a word from the leadership, read here. Global Ministries welcomes gifts designated for the recovery work at and by the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico.

In terms of long recovery efforts, Global Ministries partner Amaneser 2025 is accompanying the rural town of Naranjito in the analysis and resolution of its three main challenges: energy, water, and communications. In a November 2017, Amaneser facilitated a visit to Naranjito by a delegation made up of Global Ministries, UCC Disaster Ministries, Week of Compassion, and Disciples Volunteering. Amaneser’s work in Naranjito may serve as a pilot project in similar towns in the area.

Community residents described to the visiting delegation that regarding energy, the issue is how to deal with the proliferation of power plants along with the complications of an unjust market that control access to diesel; all these elements are complicated by widespread pollution. Water is scarce and contaminated.  The water issue worsened when cases of the bacterial infection, leptospirosis, were reported. Communications rural areas continue interrupted with little to no phone service.  The lack of communication also affected the community´s access to outside aid getting to them, compounded by the fact that many roads remain blocked by trees that the government has not been able to remove. 

The work planned by Amaneser 2025 involves community members participating in training on the subject of solar energy, and before beginning the assembly by teams of solar energy components, they will participate in a workshop at the Micronetworks Laboratory, Mayagüez Campus.  Amaneser 2025 will be providing resources for the installation of solar, water, communications and cutting and clearing equipment to meet community needs. That, along with the use of some of the residents’ equipment, training, and planning, they will be meeting some basic electricity needs, supply the minimum ice needed for 100 families for a full month and, also, to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season in 2018.

Our Partners and their leadership have been present all throughout the island, dealing with short-term needs, but also sowing the seeds of long-term recovery and sustainable development.   Men and women of good will have collaborated and provided supplies and services in places where the federal government and its local counterparts have not yet reached or provided assistance.

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  • 100% of your gift will be directed to Hurricane Maria Recovery
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