Hurricane

Want to send help to Puerto Rico or Mexico? Here’s how.

Handy men Daniel Hernandez, left, and Mario Baniaga, right, work quickly and efficiently to board up the windows for a client’s storefront in advance of Hurricane Maria at the historic Old San Juan in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.
Handy men Daniel Hernandez, left, and Mario Baniaga, right, work quickly and efficiently to board up the windows for a client’s storefront in advance of Hurricane Maria at the historic Old San Juan in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

The Caribbean and Mexico have faced one natural disaster after another.

As Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Puerto Ricans in South Florida prepared to send relief to the island.

The Puerto Rican Leadership Council of South Florida is gathering donations and plans to send water, nonperishable food, diapers, clothes and medical supplies after the hurricane hits, said Luis De Rosa, president of the local Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, one of the council members.

“Puerto Rico is going through a really hard time,” De Rosa said Tuesday. “They’re very exhausted and the fatigue has created other issues for people. Here you just finished Irma, you have to get ready for Maria.”

The Leadership Council will begin accepting donations on Friday. On Thursday at 6 p.m., 50 representatives from the organizations that make up the council, including the Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida (PROFESA) and Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami-Dade, are meeting to discuss relief efforts at Roberto Clemente Park in Miami.

In Mexico, the country was still recovering from an 8.2 magnitude earthquake that hit at the beginning of September when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday, killing more than 200 people.

The Mexican Consulate in Miami said on its Facebook page that the best way to help earthquake victims is by donating online to the Mexican Red Cross.

The Red Cross also opened a “wish list” on Amazon.com.mx where donors can purchase emergency items for earthquake victims. A volunteer group called Brigada Topos is also accepting donations via PayPal using the email address donativos@brigada-rescate-topos.org.

Meanwhile, for Puerto Ricans in South Florida, the big worry is how long their loved ones will be without power after the storm.

As Maria approached, thousands were still without electricity from Hurricane Irma, which battered Puerto Rico’s power grid. De Rosa’s wife has family in Caguas, on the eastern side of the island. They still had no electricity and limited water supplies when Maria hit, De Rosa said. Like many, they are suffering from what De Rosa called “hurricane fatigue.”

Puerto Ricans in South Florida are “very concerned, very afraid, especially for those who are having medical treatments,” De Rosa said.

Vionette Fernandez, a Puerto Rican accountant who lives in Miami, said that in addition to the loss of power, her biggest concerns were blocked roadways and limited access to drinking water after the storm. Fernandez woke up early Wednesday morning and was unable to fall back sleep, consumed with worry about her father and sister who are waiting out the storm in their home in Guaynabo in the northeastern part of the island.

Although Puerto Ricans are used to preparing for hurricanes, facing two storms back to back is “obviously a little tiring,” Fernandez said.

Plantation residents Lynnette Cantos, 27, and Lizzette Burgos, 55, were able to communicate with some of their family on the island Wednesday afternoon. Burgos talked to her 89-year-old mother, who said the second story of the house across the street, which belongs to Burgos’ cousin, had been destroyed by the wind.

Hurricane Maria reminded Burgos of Hurricane Georges, another major storm that struck the island in 1998, leaving Burgos’ family without power for at least three months. She worried that Maria would do the same.

Burgos urged Floridians to lend a hand. “Right now, the aftermath, we need the help,” she said.

How to help the Caribbean

The Puerto Rican Leadership Council will be accepting donations of nonperishable food, diapers, bottled water and clothing starting on Friday at the following locations:

Isla Del Encanto restaurant at 12850 SW 120th Street, Miami, FL 33186 on Friday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Ana G. Méndez University at 15201 NW 79th Court, Miami Lakes, FL 33016 on Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mana Wynwood warehouse at 225 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33127 on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ay Bendito food truck at 9225 SW 137th Avenue Miami, FL 33196 on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In Broward County at Casa Borinquen at 6519 Taft Street, Hollywood, FL 33024 on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Luis De Rosa at ldr@puertoricanchamber.com.

The Miami Foundation is accepting donations for Caribbean islands impacted by Maria and Irma, inlcuidng Antigua and Barbuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Donations can be made at http://miamifoundation.org/relief/

Beatriz Rosselló, the wife of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, has created an initiative to support hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. Donations can be made at http://unidosporpuertorico.com/en/

How to help Mexico

The Mexican Red Cross is accepting donations online at cruzrojadonaciones.org. Donors should write “Sismo 19/09/17” as the reason for the donation and select Mexican pesos as the mode of payment.

The Mexican Red Cross’ wish list on Amazon can be found at this link: http://amzn.to/2fAFN2h

Brigada Topos is accepting donations via PayPal using the email address donativos@brigada-rescate-topos.org

The American Jewish World Service is accepting donations for earthquake victims at https://ajws.org/donate/mexico-earthquake-listings/

To help victims of both disasters

Donate to Operation Helping Hands, a partnership between United Way of Miami-Dade, the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, Univision 23 and JCS Switchboard. Visit https://unitedwaymiami.org/, call 1-800-226-3320 or send a check payable to Operation Helping Hands, c/o United Way of Miami-Dade, P.O. Box #459007, Miami, FL 33245-9007.

UNICEF is accepting donations for earthquake victims at www.unicefusa.org/mexico and for victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria at www.unicefusa.org/relief

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