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Releaf4PuertoRico – Day 2

By October 2, 2017 April 5th, 2018 BOTG


This report is being transmitted from the roof of HQ to stateside via a phone call, while the security team is conducting counter-surveillance due to a suspicious character roaming the neighborhood, likely armed. Our team will be rotating watch throughout the night to make sure the whole neighborhood is protected.

Before the storm even happened, the Puerto Rican government was in a fiscal crisis; over 300,000 residents have left Puerto Rico in the last year. Because of this, the electrical companies reduced the workforce from 10,000 workers to 5,000 workers, now in a power crisis, they only have half the workforce.

 Before the storm, the Puerto Rican government secured ports with the equipment needed to move large quantities of shipping containers. When the storm hit, the roads were blocked, trapping the equipment, rendering the ports inoperable. The containers in the San Juan Port have since been removed from ships and are waiting on the docks, but the port is still not functioning. When our team went on a tour to see the ports, there were no trucks in the area to even attempt to move supplies. This is odd considering our sources report a decent amount of fuel on the island, especially portside. (Long gas lines for residents are due to rationing of only $15-$25 per person, 50% of gas stations have reopened)

There are fourteen regional hospitals that have consolidated all life support operations for the island. Although there have been several emergency transfers to these hospitals, there are no reported deaths due to hospital malfunctions.

Guaynabo, where we have our HQ, received 2000 bottles of water and 800 meal kits a few days ago, they were distributed within half an hour, and no other supplies have been received since.

FEMA is offering a $500 advance to each household to spend as individually desired. To receive these funds, someone must go to a FEMA outpost and submit a form. It is unknown how long it will take to get the funds once the application has been submitted.

Legally, the banks in Puerto Rico are required to give a three-month grace period on mortgages. Our team has recommended the Mayor of Guaynabo urge landlords to have compassion, and not collect rent for these three months as well. While this is not enforceable, it would help the people who are out of work and home.

During the first three days after the storm, the wait list to leave the island was at 25,000. Now, 11 days after the storm, it is estimated to be 10,000 on a waiting list, likely due to a combination of people who have already left, and fewer people who want or need to leave.

How will we help the community in which we are headquartered? The most accomplishable need is getting tarps on roofs for temporary shelter. The mayor of Guaynabo currently has 1000 tarps for his municipality, and they are asking us to recruit and run teams to install them around the various barrios. He has also asked that we find pesticides to avoid infestation and disease.

The US government has granted FEMA $700 Million dollars to use in Puerto Rico. In order to use these funds, the supply chain must start with a municipal request to the governor, the governor then forwards the request to FEMA, FEMA manages the logistics, and the Military executes the supply runs. We are able to advise the mayor of Guaynabo how to navigate supply logistics to get regular shipments directly to the city, based on lessons our team learned from Katrina, Nepal, and Thailand. This will optimize time, and personnel management, allowing local government resources to be used within the city, and the Military emergency response to do the airport runs.

Until the supply chain is created, we will make daily trips to the airport on behalf of the local government. The Mayor has granted us access to a government vehicle with a driver. Our help prevents having to further strain the limited local government personnel resources.

  • David Serrano, Director of Operations, Releaf4PuertoRico

As you might know, flights to the island are extremely limited and private aircraft have been doing so many runs between TX and FL and other islands have exhausted many of their volunteers and operational flying assets. This means that in order to get people and equipment and supplies over there, we have to pay for them.

We have partnered with a Humanitarian Travel Agency… who knew… which allows us to take personnel over to the island at reduced rates AND allows us more baggage than usually allowed specifically because we are working with them. But the average price is still about $500/pp to get people over there.

If you are interested in donating, know that your money is going directly to meet the needs of these local communities which our team has created relationships with. And David did not say this, but he is also a guest at the table each day for central operations our of San Juan where FEMA, American Red Cross, and others are coordinating operations! This is HUGE! And the reasons he knows what FEMA has allocated for the island.

We are very proud to support this effort and David’s team.

Back in the states, we are a team of 30 people coordinating supply drops, donations, fundraising events, flights, personnel, relationship development, Public Relations, and so much more! We have reached out across the country to individuals, businesses, and organizations which are working this disaster. We are in the process of collaborating with several professional medical and search and rescue teams as they have the personnel and equipment David is looking to acquire for his team and for the local communities and therefore we will help them get over to the island. BUT…


We also have an update on what the US is doing in Puerto Rico, FINALLY! Although all this is on the way, we still need your help to help our team and local communities NOW.

US UPDATE ON RELIEF EFFORT from David Miranda, Director of Municipalities, Puerto Rico
The United States by order of President Trump dispatched among other things the following: – US Army Military Police presence – 140 helicopters – 28 ships – 6 Army field hospitals – 3 Navy Seabee Battalions – 5 US Army Combat Engineer Battalions – 3 Civil Affairs battalions – 2 Nuclear Submarines capable of generating 2.8 Gigawatts of Power – release 300,000 tons of food, medical supplies, and water from Military stocks to Puerto Rico – established 11 regional staging areas that provide logistic support to 77 communities – one C-17 Globemaster with the remaining Contingency Response Element to establish airport operations. This unit includes more than 50 personnel. – one C-17 and one C-5 with the Mobile Emergency Response Support unit to provide mobile telecommunications, life support, logistics, operational support and power generation. – one C-17 with the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This unit includes approximately 20 personnel with tactical trucks and utility trailers to provide site assessments. – one C-17 with the 63d Signal Battalion from Fort Stewart, Georgia. This unit includes an approximately additional 15 personnel, tactical trucks and utility trailers to provide satellite ground communications capabilities. – two C-5s with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to provide tactical airlift with eight helicopters. This will also assist with airdrops of supplies in areas that are not accessible – two C-130s with the FAA’s Incident Staging Base Cache from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. This unit includes approximately 50 personnel and four heavy duty trucks and equipment. – and the Air Force is also further increasing airport throughput capacity in San Juan by assisting the Federal Aviation Administration with air traffic control repairs. Let us not forget that the Virgin Islands were also affected – this catastrophic Hurricane came while FEMA and other resources were nearly depleted in support of Texas, The Virgin Islands, Florida and Puerto Rico as the result of hurricane Irma

  • Kevin J White, Executive Director of DoingGood Foundation