After Hurricane Maria, UnidosUS Affiliates Assist New Arrivals from Puerto Rico

Latino Leadership in partnership with Turin Aviation taking provisions to La Perla in Puerto Rico.

According to Puerto Rico’s government’s website status.pr, only 17% of Puerto Rico’s residents have electricity and only 64% have water. As Puerto Rico continues to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, organizations on the mainland are preparing for the unexpected relocation of family and friends to the states. As many as 200,000 of the 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico could resettle in states where they have family ties, including Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to Dr. Edwin Meléndez, Director of Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños and a member of UnidosUS’s Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.

UnidosUS Affiliates are leading work to help families make a smooth transition to the states.  Latino Leadership in Orlando, Florida was among the first to bring our attention to these families’ needs, and is spearheading efforts to support those who arrive in Orlando, where they expect as many as 100,000 from the island. Through a partnership with the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latino Leadership established the Puerto Rico Family Response Center at the Orlando airport, in order to help reunify families in Florida, and provide adequate services to help them transition and restart their lives. This partnership brings together a unique network of resources as well as the support and trust of the Latino community in Florida.

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Unidos for Houston and Miami: The Role of Community-Based Organizations in Disaster Relief Efforts

UnidosUS Affiliates are helping families rise stronger after devastating Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

 After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit Texas and Florida, community-based organizations—including members of the UnidosUS Affiliate Network—worked with affected families to fill the gap between the resources available through the national and local government and the communities in need. These local organizations, as trusted members of their communities, served as crucial local partners to disaster relief agencies like the American Red Cross to deliver culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services to families.

Latino families—especially newcomers or those living in rural or remote communities—faced unique difficulties in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For example, not all families were aware of the assistance and resources available locally to communities through U.S. government programs such as FEMA, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and local Department of Children and Family Services divisions, or knew how to navigate the process of disaster relief. As affected families tried navigating the system to request assistance, local organizations such as the American Latino Center for Research, Education and Justice (ALCREJ) in Houston, Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations (COFFO) in Homestead, and Hispanic Services Council in Tampa—all UnidosUS Affiliates—stepped in. In many cases, these organizations became advocates and liaisons for families. They worked tirelessly to disseminate information on resources, conducting individual check-ins to understand specific needs and direct families to the appropriate organizations for assistance. The impact in each community was immense.

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Mr. President: Puerto Ricans Are Americans Too

Hurricane Maria deserves the same response as Harvey and Irma.

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS

Once again, we need to remind our federal government that our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico must not be forgotten.

The lack of swift, decisive, and highly visible presidential and congressional action as 3.5 million American children and families suffer the effects of Hurricane Maria is inexcusable. In the past month, three hurricanes have hit different parts of the United States—including Puerto Rico. Within days, the president and other leaders responded in Texas and Florida. However, the president was silent for six days on Puerto Rico—and it was only after pressure from the public that the president responded, announcing yesterday that he would visit the island next week. This delay in response demonstrates that millions of our fellow American citizens are being treated differently. This is wrong.

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How You Can Help Our Fellow Citizens in Puerto Rico

UnidosUS is urging everyone to contact their members of Congress and tell them to demand a plan to provide relief to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Tell them we demand relief for Puerto Rico NOW.

Call the White House: 202-456-1111

Call Congress: 202-224-3121

There are a number of disaster relief efforts underway by both local groups in Puerto Rico and by UnidosUS Affiliates.

Here’s a link to local efforts on the ground in Puerto Rico: unidos.us/prlocalresources

Here’s a list of UnidosUS Affiliates who are raising funds for victims: Bilingual  English  Spanish