Today we began a week-long assessment in Puerto Rico ahead of a potential Rebuild Project on the island. This is a first for the organization, a watershed moment – NECHAMA has never operated outside the continental United States before. Staff toured the southern and eastern portion of the island, meeting with locals, viewing the damage, and scouting potential areas to focus on.
It’s hard to put into words the extent of the damage, and photos don’t do it justice.
We saw highway signs turned 90 degrees, then bent to the ground. Forests devoid of any green, like a bomb went off. A wind farm where most of the turbine blades were no longer attached. Home after home after home with blue tarps, blow out windows, and damage. Power, telephone, and other cables down along the side of the road for miles and miles.
But we also saw warm smiles, resilient families, and strong communities, with still such a long road ahead of them.
Throughout the week we will be meeting with partner organizations, the Puerto Rico Jewish community, FEMA, and others to determine what, if any, role NECHAMA can play in rebuilding communities, and bringing families home.