KEY FACTS ABOUT PUERTO RICO AND HURRICANE MARIA
Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean Sea. At 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, it is the smallest of the Greater Antilles.
Relationship with the United States
It is a United States territory with close to 3.5 million people who were born US citizens.
There are another 5.1 million Puerto Ricans in the 50 states.
Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have fought in every major US military conflict since World War I. Thousands were wounded or lost their lives fighting for the United States.
This September, Puerto Rico was hit by a Category 4 (Irma) and a Category 5 (Maria) hurricane within two weeks. That has never happened anywhere before.
Puerto Rico has not seen this type of devastation since it was hit by Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, back when hurricanes were called tropical cyclones and bore saints’ names.
Unprecedented damage was caused by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Puerto Rico Wednesday, September 20 with winds of 155 miles per hour.
Hurricane Damage & Destruction
Because so much of the island’s transportation and telecommunications has been lost, it is still practically impossible to know the full extent of the damage.
Entire neighborhoods were submerged by flooding and some people were swept away in the surge. Many people are still missing.
In one neighborhood near San Juan 80% of homes were destroyed.
Numerous areas remain flooded and can be only accessed by boat; landslides took out many roads.
Most of the island was left without power and running water. Three weeks after Maria, only 6.7% of Puerto Ricans have power.
At least 80% of the agricultural crop value was destroyed.
There are shortages of medicine, fuel, food and water. People have to stand in line for hours just to get basic necessities.
Due to the lack of electrical power and other shortages, many hospitals are not able to operate. As of 10/8, the official death toll stands at 36, but unofficial reports point to hundreds of deaths, mostly due to lack of health access.
One month after Maria, it was estimated that around 50,000 Puerto Ricans had left the island and headed to the mainland United States. The number is expected to increase. Many of these families will never return.
How to Help
Help is being sent, but much more is needed.
Check this live document (in Spanish) for updates on conditions on the island: http://status.pr/Home
Three organizations will receive the funds raised in the first round of efforts by Teens4PR: Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico http://www.bgcpr.org, Centros Sor Isolina Ferré http://www.csifpr.org, and Para la Naturaleza http://www.paralanaturaleza.org/centros/donate.html. They each have a significant presence in communities all over the island. The first two provide services and education access to children and adolescents from disadvantaged communities. Para la Naturaleza partners with communities, volunteers, the government and experts to promote conservation, sustainability and reforestation.