Puerto Rico Still Needs Aid. Here’s How You Can Help.

After Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, conditions on the island remain grim, with a power outage that may last six months, dwindling supplies of fresh water, limited access to hospitals and substantial damage to infrastructure. Advocates fear that a looming humanitarian crisis could have lasting repercussions.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to help your fellow Americans get back on their feet.

While this post focuses on Puerto Rico, be aware that the U.S. Virgin Islands have also been heavily affected by the recent storms. Many of the groups working in Puerto Rico are also deploying there.

What to know

3.4 million U.S. citizens live in Puerto Rico, but they don’t get the same treatment as people on the mainland. They have no voting representation in Congress, and they cannot participate in presidential elections. Additionally, the delivery of government benefits and programs in Puerto Rico isn’t the same as it is on the mainland. And if you think that sounds unfair, you’re not alone.

Who to call

Congress needs to know that people who live on the U.S. mainland are very concerned about conditions in Puerto Rico. Notably, several politicians have led the charge on delivering aid, including Marco Rubio, while public figures like Mark Cuban and Pitbull are also mobilizing with aid.

You should contact your representative. You can also find your senators’ contact information here.

Here’s what to think about before you call:

  • The disaster declaration should be expanded to all of Puerto Rico, not just a section.
  • Congress needs to immediately authorize more funds to help with hurricane relief, and act to get them in place before FEMA funding runs out.
  • Disaster unemployment benefits last just 26 weeks — and that’s not enough for those recovering from a major storm. We need to extend them.
  • Disaster SNAP could rapidly deliver food to hungry people.
  • Puerto Rico’s Medicaid funding cap limits services for low-income residents. It’s time to lift it.

Charitable contributions

Portlight provides aid to disabled people and has workers on the ground in Puerto Rico right now

Save the Children renders help to child victims of disasters, as does UNICEF

Global Giving is collecting funds for distribution to groups working in Puerto Rico

One America Appeal, organized by the five living former U.S. presidents, is collecting funds for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Humane Society teams are helping affected animals

International Medical Corps, MedShare and Heart to Heart International are helping with medical care

United for Puerto Rico is helping hurricane survivors

For the most part, charities need cash, not in-kind donations, unless they specify otherwise. Coordinating supplies is expensive and complicated, and they can get goods at discount for buying in bulk. If you don’t have a lot of cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t help: Consider organizing or participating in a fundraiser that pools your community’s resources.

Photo credit: The National Guard

39 comments

Chad A
Chad Anderson6 months ago

The US owes Puerto Rico a lot.

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Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill11 months ago

Puerto Rico was in need even before the hurricane because of their government officials. They have neglected the infrastructure for a long time.

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S11 months ago

Thanks

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Elaine W
Elaine W11 months ago

Noted.

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Elaine D
Elaine D11 months ago

Thank you

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caroline lord
caroline lord11 months ago

thank you

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I12 months ago

The Puerto Rican crisis is a sad and disgusting situation, thanks to Trump's sociopathic mentality. Nevertheless, it's good to know that there are so many good charities in this regard. Thanks for sharing.

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Kathryn I
Kathryn Iabout a year ago

Petition signed. On Facebook, I used my birthday to donate $240 from my FB friends; anyone can do that too. Thanks for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a year ago

Thanks.

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