Ways to help relief efforts for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Puerto Rico is virtually without power or cell service after Hurricane Maria barreled through the island, leaving those searching for loved ones in a shroud of uncertainty.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the island is facing an “unprecedented disaster” after the storm made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane last week.

While about 5 percent of electricity had been restored across the island by Monday night, generators remain the only source of power for more than 3 million American citizens.

The storm killed at least 16 and left the island littered with rubble from demolished homes and downed trees and power lines.

How to help relief efforts

  • Donate supplies: Puerto Rico’s government created a presentation on the emergency and construction supplies needed to help those in need. It is also urging people to use social media to encourage people to donate to the relief fund. Puerto Rico’s first lady, Beatriz Rosselló, has also set up a relief fund called United for Puerto Rico, which connects those in need to the private sector.
  • Volunteer: Volunteer or contribute to the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, or the Salvation Army, which are accepting relief funds for areas affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
  • The five living U.S. presidents have expanded their fund, the One America Appeal, to include relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Save the Children’s fund will focus on the needs of families and their children.
  • Donate to GlobalGiving, a crowdfunding site that connects donors to nonprofits all over the world.
  • Americares says that for every $10 donated, it can provide $200 in aid.

How to help in your area:

How to try to reach loved ones in Puerto Rico

  • Email Puerto Rico’s disaster relief team at maria1@prfaa.pr.gov. Because of high volume, officials are asking that people only send one email and no follow-ups. Include as much information about the people you are concerned about and your contact information.
  • Call the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-800-3133 or 202-800-3134. Staffers are taking names and numbers to develop plans on conducting welfare checks.

  • Call local Puerto Rico radio station WIPR at 787-777-0940.
  • Use the Red Cross’ Safe and Well database, where survivors can mark themselves as safe and family members can search through the list of registrants.

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