Puerto Rico and its people remain under a death cloud of devastation since Hurricane Maria hit the island. Disaster relief scholars do not classify Maria — the strongest American storm in nearly 100 years — as a natural disaster, but as a “catastrophic event,” a force that erases infrastructure and a people’s means to help themselves.
Yet your Zakat Foundation workers are there, delivering food and supplies, building better relief knowledge and infrastructure, and turning your generosity into help and hope for hundreds of Maria’s most vulnerable victims.
On October 31, Zakat Foundation of America staff and supporters loaded and sent off a third emergency aid shipment of life-saving food packages to the hurricane stricken. Each food package contained rice, broth, pasta, cereals, beans, granola bars, and canned vegetables, chicken and tuna.
The first shipment left our docks with 2,000 units of baby food, 400 units of milk, 58 gas cook tops, 50 boxes of medical gloves, 40 gallons of medical alcohol, 40 gallons of medical soap, 30 boxes of wound dressings, and 80 boxes of medical cotton. Our second shipment consisted of hundreds of hygiene kits of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine products, and shampoo/conditioner.
Leticia Escamilla, Zakat Foundation’s Regional Program Coordinator, personally escorted the second aid shipment to the island seeing to the distribution among the afflicted and assessing their ongoing urgent needs.
Leticia’s first hand report is heartbreaking and alarming:
- A whopping 90 percent of the population is still without electricity.
- Raw sewage is pouring into rivers and reservoirs, contaminating untold quantities of water people are drinking and bathing in.
- People have begun dying in recent days from what scientists suspect is leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by animal urine.
- 20 of its 51 sewage treatment plants are out of service.
- Five of its 18 highly toxic waste sites have yet to be inspected.
- Toxic ash mounds from power plants carrying heavy metals may be leaching into the water supply.
The Zakat Foundation not only focused its distribution efforts in the capital of San Juan, but also in Loiza, a dangerously deprived area outside the capital city. We have worked in close cooperation with the University Pediatric Hospital; Taller Salud, a community nonprofit helping battered, elderly, and disabled women; and several churches throughout the area to reach communities in need.
A Timeline for Zakat Foundation of America Relief in Puerto Rico
On September 28, just a week after Maria’s 155 mph winds for 30 hours buzz-sawed a 60-mile swath through Puerto Rico, the Zakat Foundation sent your first shipment of 2,000 units of baby food, 400 units of milk, 58 gas cook tops, 50 boxes of medical gloves, 40 gallons of medical alcohol, 40 gallons of medical soap, 30 boxes of wound dressings, and 80 boxes of medical cotton.
On October 9, Zakat Foundation of America Regional Coordinator, Leticia Escamilla arrived in Puerto Rico where she personally assessed the needs and distributed hundreds of badly needed hygiene kits of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine products, and shampoo/conditioner.
On October 15, a throng of 150 volunteers bundled more than 1,000 food packages in a 3-hour flurry of selfless, unifying teamwork. The packages now ready to be hoisted onto waiting trucks for our upcoming third shipment.
On October 31, Zakat Foundation invited legislators, local leaders, our Latino neighbors, and the media to collectively load and see off our third shipment of life-saving food packages containing rice, broth, pasta, cereals, beans, canned chicken and tuna, granola bars and more.