Since arriving on the island on Monday, staff have driven more than 450 miles around the island in our Kia Rio assessing damage, meeting with partners, and looking at options for a potential NECHAMA project. We’ve driven highways, byways, mountain roads, and back alleys – all in search of how NECHAMA can bring hope and comfort to Puerto Rico.
We’ve met with partners including the San Juan JCC, FEMA, All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response, the Puerto Rico VOAD, local mayors, and residents to gather information, make vital connections, and develop a plan for NECHAMA here on the island.
In those 450 miles, we have seen the terrible destruction from Humacao to Arecibo, downed power lines and communities still in the dark 4 months after the storms. We’ve seen the ubiquitous blue tarps on roof after roof to keep out the rain and elements, down trees, and hundreds of homes in desperate need of help.
But more than that, we have met amazing local residents determined to rebuild communities. We met homeowners in Yabucoa working hard to fix damage to their homes, who took the time to show us around, answer questions, and refuse to let us leave until they had the chance to feed us.
We toured the town of Loiza with members of the Mayor’s staff and made us feel at home in their beautiful town and took time to discuss the needs of the community, and how our volunteers can make a difference.
We continue to work on logistical challenges and make strategic decisions, however, we anticipate making an announcement early next week as to our plans for Puerto Rico. Stay tuned!