From day one, volunteer organizations have been key in helping survivors in Puerto Rico rebuild their lives after hurricanes Irma and María. To continue helping survivors through their journey to long-term recovery, the Government of Puerto Rico and FEMA opened community recovery centers, or CRCs across the island where nonprofits could meet face to face with survivors.
“You have to do more. You have to be able to create an environment for other contributors besides the government to come to the table and help out. These are nonprofit organizations, and we’ve got some great ones in Puerto Rico,” said Mike Byrne, Federal Coordinating Officer for disaster operations in Puerto Rico.
Over 100,000 people have visited and continue to visit CRCs throughout the island.
“We have been able to help so many families. The CRC has served as a strategic meeting place,” said Elizabeth Moya from Fundación Lazos de Amor. This nonprofit organization provides commodities, food and emotional wellness support to single parents and senior citizens with limited resources.
This organization has a warehouse where they store commodities, but the actual distribution process of these items takes place at the CRC in Aguadilla. Also, the organization has established partnerships with other non-profits and they meet there to exchange resources.
Having CRCs throughout the island also allows volunteer-based organizations to offer their services to other municipalities.
“We are very grateful for the FEMA staff and for the partnership they’ve established with us. We were able to extend our services and offer people our free services,” said Emma Torres Santiago, Director of Sociedad Americana Contra el Cancer’s Branch in the southern part of the island.
The volunteer organizations available vary from center to center. However, each center has a disaster case manager available to assist with individual case management and connect survivors with agencies and volunteer organizations that may help survivors with any unmet needs.
Visitors do not have to be registered with FEMA to access these services. To locate a community recovery center near you, visit fema.gov/disaster/4339/CRC.
For more on Puerto Rico’s recovery, visit FEMA.gov/Disaster/4339.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) 711/VRS - Video Relay Service). Multilingual operators are available. (Press 2 for Spanish). TTY call 800-462-7585.
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