PUERTO RICO – Just two weeks after Hurricane Irma battered Puerto Rico, the island’s inhabitants faced yet another disastrous storm—Hurricane Maria. Maria made a direct hit on Puerto Rico as a strong, category 4 storm with intense winds, torrential rain, and a powerful storm surge. The results were catastrophic. Now, more than a week after the storm has passed, much of Puerto Rico still lies in ruins. Flooding persists in many areas, and the island’s infrastructure has been all but destroyed.
It took several days for the airport and ports to reopen, but Operation Blessing staff arrived as soon as possible and swiftly connected with the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. The dire nature of the situation instantly became apparent. Supplies of food and safe water were quickly running out and many roads remained impassible. Widespread fuel shortages and an obliterated power grid further compounded the crisis.
With the help of Mayor Cruz, Operation Blessing immediately began distributing solar lights to children and families in need. With power not expected to be restored for months, these lights provide an invaluable source of hope for a population desperate for some good news. “All of sudden you get that spark in people’s eyes; you have children smile. The community starts getting noisy again, and people start claiming back their streets,” said Mayor Cruz.
Food is another urgent need for Puerto Ricans, so Operation Blessing joined forces with a local bakery to produce 1,000 loaves of bread per day. “Many of these people cannot prepare their own food,” said bakery manager Debbie Perez. “They have no electricity, there’s no water, there’s no gas, and we have the opportunity to bless these people.”
Nearby, celebrity chef Jose Andres is running a project to feed hospital workers and provide sandwiches for the elderly, so Operation Blessing is sending 300 loaves of bread per day to help him continue meeting the needs of these important groups.
Operation Blessing’s large-scale water purification equipment is currently on the way to Puerto Rico to combat the growing water crisis. But in the meantime, we are doing all we can to reach the hardest hit areas with emergency relief. Thank you for your ongoing support as we reach out to help the millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico.