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Puerto Rico continues to suffer unbelievable tragedies from Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that devastated the island on Sept. 20, one of several major damaging hurricanes for the United States this season. The recovery has been very slow with 85% or more of the island still without electricity. But here's some good news:
AccuWeather has already raised over $50,000 for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Florida, the Gulf Coast and Texas through this United Way donation link, as well as untold amounts through our "How to Help" page.
Now, we're literally going to Puerto Rico to deliver a truckload of another $50,000 worth of supplies with our adoption of the town of Patillas, Puerto Rico.
To help us get our life-saving shipping container to Patillas full of relief supplies, you can donate online. Or, if you happen to live close to AccuWeather HQ in State College, Pennsylvania, you can drop off supplies (see list) at our building. Here's more information:
To illustrate the continuing struggle in Puerto Rico, I've already blogged aerial photos of the island, detailing the damaged infrastructure, including communication towers, solar farms and wind turbine farms like this one:
The slow return of the power infrastructure has been particularly depressing. This image from NASA shows the lights of our adopted town of Patillas, before and one week after Hurricane Maria (click to enlarge):
For the composite map below (click to enlarge) I am using the NASA data to show the entire island pre-Maria, Sept. 27 (1 week later), and Oct. 8-9 (combined -- note that gray areas indicate no data because of clouds. Not surprisingly, the big cities in the south (Ponce) and west (Mayaguez) were doing the best on Oct. 8-9, because they were farther from the storm's fury (it entered the southeastern corner of Puerto Rico). San Juan, the major city in the north, is starting to light up, but most of the rest of the country was still dark.
In fact, due to a piece of equipment failing, the percentage of people without power actually went DOWN last week, from 15 percent to as low as 9 percent, now 13.7 percent (graph by CNN). They list recent bad weather as a partial cause. Because Hurricane Maria stripped the trees of leaves (and then clogged drains with leaves and mud), the island is enduring flooding from less rain than it is used to -- almost like the problem flooding they have in California after a wildfire defoliates trees.
"AccuWeather is responding to the extraordinary 2017 hurricane season with a community-wide effort to help people impacted by Hurricane Maria. The company has made arrangements to adopt Patillas, Puerto Rico, a remote town that has been largely cut off from relief efforts and shipments of supplies, as a focus for its “Rays of Hope” community service initiative. The mayor of Patillas provided a list of items the community needs to endure this crisis and begin to rebuild. These supplies will help families stay clean and healthy, and protect them from diseases and other ailments that can occur after the loss of equipment, infrastructure, fresh food and access to safe water."
"Patillas was one of the first towns affected when Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Because Patillas has no port access, it has been largely cut off from relief shipments, putting its more than 20,000 residents in a desperate situation with a scarcity of clean water, power, cell service, food staples and other essentials. AccuWeather is dedicated to saving lives and keeping people out of harm’s way by providing the most accurate weather forecasts and warnings before storms happen. As a company that understands the effects of severe weather, we have an opportunity to help ease the suffering of people who have experienced an unimaginable tragedy after the storm. As part of our Rays of Hope community service initiative, AccuWeather is filling a shipping container at our State College headquarters with life-saving staples and goods. We are asking employees, neighbors, businesses and residents of the surrounding Centre County community to donate needed items. New England Motor Freight and TOTE Shipping are partnering with AccuWeather to ship the container of supplies to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The supplies will be trucked across the island to the Patillas community. From there, the goods will be distributed directly to those in need by a team that includes several employees sent by AccuWeather to help."
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