Hurricane Maria Recovery: What Now?


In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria the people of Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands face a certain and difficult struggle to restore power, water, and roads, and rebuild homes and the economy. As federal and local government agencies and the private and nonprofit sectors in Puerto Rico work to distribute vital aid to over 3.5 million people across a mountainous 100 by 30 mile island with little remaining infrastructure, we are again thinking about our philanthropic response to disaster.

Financial donations are needed for the immediate care of the population, for the short term recovery efforts, and for the medium and long term rebuilding of lives, communities, and economies. We are listing a number of organizations that are positioned to deliver aid effectively to Puerto Rico, and to some of the other islands affected by the 2017 hurricanes.

Immediate Care of the Population

The Salvation Army has operated in Puerto Rico for over 50 years. In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Salvation Army continues to serve Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, delivering meals, snacks, and water to tens of thousands of people daily in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

World Central Kitchen and Chef Jose Andres have helped deliver 100,000 meals in the past two weeks, harnessing the power of volunteer chefs and emergency kitchens and food trucks to reach people most in need across Puerto Rico. Founded after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti; the World Central Kitchen network of chefs now works around the world to create solutions to hunger and poverty.

10.30.17 update: Read more about WCK in José Andrés Fed Puerto Rico, and May Change How Aid Is Given from the New York Times.

Rebuilding Lives and Communities

As staff to grantmakers, we work with the organizations that are keenly attuned to the people in need. There are several funds that stand out as very well-suited to work with organizations that will meet the challenges brought on by Maria.

The Puerto Rico Community Recovery Fund was activated by the Puerto Rico Community Foundation after hurricane Irma to help community-based organizations meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations on the island. Since then, the Community Foundation has received contributions from across its strong network, including the San Diego Community Foundation, Community Foundation of New Jersey, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and The Heinz Endowments, as well as organizations including CF Leads, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP),and  Iberoamerican Network of Civic and Community Foundations.

Unidos por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico) is an initiative launched by Beatriz Rosello, the First Lady of Puerto Rico, in partnership with the private sector to help those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria and to support the island’s recovery. Donors to the “One America Appeal,” a fundraising campaign for 2017 hurricane relief led by all five living former U.S. Presidents, can contribute to United for Puerto Rico and also to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands’ relief fund.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is a valuable resource for learning and connection to anyone interested in supporting disaster-affected communities across the world. They have established the CDP 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund, committed to medium and long-term recovery. A CDP-appointed grant advisory committee will explore investing in all geographic areas affected by these catastrophic storms.

Please let us know if we can help you think about your giving in the wake of Hurricane Maria.