AccuWeather adopts remote village in Puerto Rico, set to deliver life-saving aid to victims hit by hurricanes

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
October 17, 2017, 12:41:16 PM EDT

AccuWeather is responding to the extraordinary 2017 hurricane season, with a companywide effort to help victims impacted by Hurricane Maria.

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The company has made arrangements to adopt the town of Patillas, Puerto Rico, a remote village located in the southeastern part of the island, as a focus for AccuWeather's "Rays of Hope" community service initiative.

Patillas was one of the first towns affected when Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. Because Patillas has no port access, it has been largely cut off from relief efforts and shipments of supplies, 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," said Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather's Founder, President and Chairman.

APTOPIX Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria

Destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"We warned the people in the area and around the world about the impending hurricanes and their expected impacts, which we know saved thousands of lives, and we are very proud of that. Still it is heartbreaking to know what the people of Puerto Rico are going through now, and, as a company that understands the effects of severe weather perhaps better than anyone, we felt obligated to provide relief," Myers said.

AccuWeather will begin collecting life-saving staples and goods in a shipping container, which will be delivered to AccuWeather on Monday, Oct. 16. The company, based in State College, Pennsylvania, is asking employees, neighbors, businesses and residents of the surrounding Centre County community to donate needed items.


Donated items in the AccuWeather lobby. (Image via AccuWeather Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski)

Once filled, the container will be shipped directly to Puerto Rico, where AccuWeather associates will be on hand to help deliver the needed items directly to the people of Patillas.

Norberto Soto Figueroa, the Mayor of Patillas, has provided AccuWeather with a list of items needed to help the people of his community endure this crisis and begin to rebuild their lives.

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.

"The people I am proud to represent in the town of Patillas are so grateful to AccuWeather," said Mayor Figueroa. "We are suffering, but it is a relief to know that help is on its way and that people understand and care about our catastrophic and heart-breaking situation."

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The supplies will be trucked across the island from San Juan to the Patillas community. From there, the goods will be distributed directly to those in need.

NEMF (New England Motor Freight) and TOTE Maritime are partnering with AccuWeather to provide and 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.

Local residents are encouraged to participate in this relief effort by purchasing and bringing any of the items on the collection list by Oct. 24. The container will be located in the parking lot of AccuWeather's Global Weather Center, 385 Science Park Road, State College, Pa., through Wednesday, Oct. 25.

AccuWeather employees are volunteering to collect and package the items for shipment. Collection hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekends.

Financial contributions, which will be used to supplement needed items on the collection list, can be made to Centre Foundation online at Donors should click on the Fund menu and select Health and Social Services to access the Rays of Hope Fund. Checks can be mailed to: Centre Foundation, 1377 Ridge Master Drive, State College, Pa., 16801. Centre Foundation requests that donors write Rays of Hope Fund on the memo line of their checks.

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"This AccuWeather Rays of Hope project showcases the great character and concern of our employees. They care about making a difference not just here at home, but across the U.S. and its territories," said Elizabeth Soroka, Vice President, Human Resources at AccuWeather.

"We are very proud of our staff and their excitement about jumping in to show compassion and help the people of Puerto Rico. It is not surprising that such a talented, entrepreneurial group is taking this initiative to contribute time and resources to help those in need. Ultimately, we hope the great work they are doing inspires more volunteerism," Soroka said.

Visit this link for a flyer that includes the full item collection list. For more information, visit AccuWeather's donation press release.

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