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Puerto Rico: Hurricane Maria

Belianis Colon Rivera and her son receive a a water filter from an Oxfam distribution in the La Cruz neighborhood of Villalba. Photo: Coco McCabe /Oxfam America

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, many areas are still without electricity or clean water, making life enormously difficult, if not dangerous. Communities are plunged into darkness at night, communications are difficult, and hundreds of thousands of people spend time and money finding clean drinking water.

Help save lives

Together with local partners, Oxfam is helping some of Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable residents meet their urgent needs for clean drinking water, light, and federal recovery assistance, while we continue to advocate in Washington for more resources so the island can rebuild in the face of climate change.

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How we're responding

Updated January 2018

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017; months later, many people across the island remain in acute crisis—the roofs blown off their homes, their power still out, the cleanliness of their water supply uncertain. As the year drew to a close, more than 1.5 million residents still had no regular source of electricity. The consequences of that are devastating to people and the economy: businesses and services are grappling with reduced hours and the high cost of diesel-powered generators; municipal water systems are struggling to pump and chlorinate water; and families without access to generators have neither lights nor refrigeration.

With our local partners, we are tackling these problems on several fronts:

  • Together with the Foundation for Puerto Rico, we have been distributing household water filters that can process up to 6,000 gallons of water before the filters need to be changed. Student volunteers from the University of Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Health are joining us, helping with distribution, public health education, and follow-up on filter use. In addition, we are working with local organizations to put together a consortium to repair water systems in 10 to 15 rural, isolated communities in the central mountains that have lost water due to lack of electricity, which is not expected to be restored for months.
  • With the Center for New Democracy, we have been distributing thousands of solar-powered lights across 12 of the island’s municipalities. And with Casa Pueblo, we are planning to pilot solar-powered systems for rural grocery stores in three isolated communities.
  • Through The Access to Justice Foundation, we are providing legal aid to families, helping them obtain the documents they need to file claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as to appeal rejected claims. The project includes lawyers from seven organizations working in 50 of 78 municipalities.
  • And on Capitol Hill, we are continuing to advocate for more funding for the emergency response and for speeding the aid effort. Recent initiatives included hosting a delegation in Washington, DC, of local leaders from Puerto Rico who made their case directly to Members of Congress, Congressional staffers, and high-level FEMA officials.

Donate now to help us meet the most critical needs.

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Stories & updates

Story

Puerto Rico: Anxiously waiting for FEMA

But with help from Oxfam and The Access to Justice Fund Foundation, families can now get the legal help they need in applying for assistance and following up on claims.

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