On September 20, 2017, Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit the US territory of Puerto Rico with winds at 155 miles per hour at landfall. The island’s power grid was wiped out, a flash flood emergency was declared, and the storm left Puerto Rico’s already weak infrastructure in poor condition. Homes, businesses, and public buildings were also damaged or destroyed, and nearly 2 years later, and despite a $20 billion rebuilding plan enacted by the Puerto Rican government, over 75,000 still require repairs or reconstruction, especially the homes of ill, elderly, and disabled homeowners who lack the resources to have their homes repaired. The repair and reinforcement of homes is crucial in preparation for future hurricane seasons, which will only further devastate Puerto Rico’s infrastructure if not adequately addressed.
Although RMF has been responding to Puerto Rico’s need for health and hygiene supplies since our initial involvement in 2017, in 2019 we elected to broaden the scope of our aid in order to address the shelter and infrastructure needs of the population. Thus, RMF initiated a series of construction projects benefiting vulnerable homeowners in the hurricane-affected central areas of Puerto Rico. Projects have included the rebuilding of roofs, installation of water tanks/jet pumps, the reconstruction of entire homes, and other repairs which will be undertaken on a case-by-case basis. In addition to fully funding and managing some of these construction projects, RMF is also assisting the FEMA Valor Project, under its Community Recovery Center (CRC) initiative, with management of supplies and materials, coordinating closely with other partner organizations, such as SVDP (San Vincent De Paul) and Endeavors, as well as the municipalities.
Funding and Organizing Construction Projects
RMF fully funds a portion of the construction projects undertaken. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis. RMF works closely with the municipality, as well as partner organizations Endeavors, SVDP, Heart 9/11, and Edifiquemos Program to identify homeowners in need, conduct home inspections, and organize materials and building teams.
Partnership with FEMA
In addition to funding and managing independent projects, RMF is collaborating closely with the FEMA Valor Project to organize materials for other cases. FEMA will be providing building materials for these projects in partnership with the nonprofit organizations SVDP and Endeavors. RMF’s role in this partnership is to coordinate with the municipality to procure the necessary materials, revise the materials and quantities as needed, and transport and deliver the supplies to the construction site.
- Severe damage to housing and infrastructure
- Inadequate preparation for subsequent hurricane seasons
- Ill, elderly, and disabled homeowners lack resources to rebuild
- Families living in poverty lack resources to rebuild
Through these construction projects, RMF hopes to improve the quality of life, health, and wellbeing of homeowners who have been unable to rebuild their homes due to lack of resources. Furthermore, these repairs, installations, and reconstructions will increase the likelihood of withstanding subsequent minor or moderate storms or other disasters. RMF will continue to partner with FEMA on these projects until the Puerto Rico Housing Department takes over implementation at a later date, at which point, we hope to collaborate directly with municipalities to continue these projects.
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