In San Juan, Puerto Rico, children helped their grandfather clear debris from the site of his home that was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
On September 20, 2017 Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Maria caused a lot of damage there, including destroying the island’s power grid. After the hurricane, no one had electricity. Most people did not have clean running water, and many buildings were damaged or destroyed. Communications, including phone and Internet services, were also badly affected.
In the weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall, many have helped this U.S. territory and its people. The five living former U.S. Presidents joined together with celebrities to raise money to help people affected by hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey through the One America Appeal. They held a benefit concert and have raised over $31 million. Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the musical Hamilton, joined with other Latino performers to record a benefit song called “Almost Like Praying.” Money earned from the sale of the song is going toward helping Puerto Rico recover.
Technology companies have sent help to Puerto Rico as well. Businessperson and inventor Elon Musk and his company, Tesla, Inc., have installed a solar and battery power system at the Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital) in San Juan. Alphabet, the company that owns Google, has sent up special balloons over the island to help restore Internet and text messaging services.
The U.S. federal government has sent help as well. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deployed workers to help with the recovery. A U.S. Navy hospital ship was sent to Puerto Rico to help provide medical care. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both visited the island to see how recovery was progressing. However, the federal government has received some criticism about its response to Hurricane Maria. Some people think that the government didn’t respond quickly enough and hasn’t provided as much assistance as it should have. Others argue that its response has been adequate.
Many everyday people have also spent time working to help the people of Puerto Rico move forward. For example, more than 54,000 volunteers in Orlando, FL. packed almost 4 1/2 million meals to be sent to Puerto Rico through an organization called Feeding Children Everywhere. People across the United States are donating money and goods, such as water, food, and clothing, to help Puerto Ricans recover. Some of the money and goods are going to large organizations like the Presidents’ One America Appeal. Smaller groups and individuals have also been organizing donations.
On the island, there are many stories of people working with their friends and neighbors to help one another. For example, in one town, residents worked together to set up a pulley system across a river where a bridge had been destroyed. People who have access to phone service have let others use their phones to make calls. People have relayed messages to relatives in the mainland United States to let them know that their family in Puerto Rico is safe. Teachers and administrators have worked to clean up schools and get them ready for students to return.
There is still a lot of work left to do to help Puerto Rico recover from this natural disaster. Over a month after the hurricane hit, most people are still without power, and some still do not have access to clean water. Schools have begun to reopen, but most are still without power and necessary supplies. As people keep working together, Puerto Rico will continue its recovery from Hurricane Maria.