Food For The Poor Responds to Earthquakes in Puerto Rico
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2020) Food For The Poor is sending critically needed relief supplies to Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a series of earthquakes that have toppled homes and schools and caused millions of dollars of damage along the island's southwest coast.
The charity is working with the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico to oversee the distribution. By working with trusted partners like the Episcopal Church, the charity is able to assure that critical aid is getting to the people who need it most.
Those items requested by the Episcopal Church and being sent include disaster hygiene kits, personal hygiene items, first aid, medicine, solar-powered light kits, two-burner stoves, water filtration units, tarps, inflatable mattresses, towels and diapers.
"We are so grateful to Food For The Poor and donors who are helping us respond with aid much faster and have more meaningful impact with families," said Yaitza Salinas, Administrator for the Diocese of the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico.
"We're able to help them spiritually and emotionally with this catastrophe, but also provide for their physical needs as well," Salinas said.
Four pallets of relief supplies were delivered this week to distribution centers in Guanica, Yauco and surrounding cities and mountain towns. A hub in Ponce also will serve as a distribution center. Food For The Poor received the airfreighted goods from MAP International, a longtime partner.
Two additional tractor-trailer loads of relief items will be picked up next week from MAP International and Midwest Mission, another Food For The Poor partner, and shipped to the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico.
According to the Episcopal Church team, there are 22 shelters open, housing a total of 3,072 people. The team is making daily trips to the south of the island to distribute food and water, and has witnessed many people living in improvised shelters outside of their homes, said Cesar Guevara, Food For The Poor's Gifts in Kind International Operations Manager.
Salinas said many residents are fearful of returning to their homes, and others are unable to because of extensive damage.
"They were living a normal life and all of a sudden, their homes were wrecked. They're unable go into their homes and they're living on the sidewalk," she said. "Most people don't have basic needs like food and water, and everyday items."
The largest of the earthquakes, at 6.4-magnitude, occurred on January 7, killed one person, injured nine others and severely damaged infrastructure in Puerto Rico's southwest coast. Electrical outages are widespread in the area. Some residents are also without water service.
Many are still recovering from Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that hit in September 2017.
While Food For The Poor's mission primarily is to serve internationally, the charity has responded in the past to catastrophic disasters in the United States and to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Maria, Food For The Poor sent more than 100 tractor-trailer loads of aid to Puerto Rico.
"We want to respond to the immediate needs of families who are recovering from these earthquakes," said Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine. "It's a harsh reality, but the recovery effort from Maria already has faded from the public's mind. But still the rebuilding continues. Food For The Poor is committed to being there, working with our trusted partners and with the loving support of our dedicated donors."
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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