Greetings! Please know that showing your concern and willingness to help means a lot, so thanks in advance and keep us in your prayers! As you may have heard in the news, this hurricane was of unexpected proportions. I have to admit that not having electricity has helped me not be distracted by details about devastation. Nonetheless we feel it and live it every day.
As a result, we joined efforts with other community members and leaders to assist the most vulnerable in our community in Rio Piedras (San Juan). Our building became the "Operations Center". There we (people from all personal, social, economic, political and religious backgrounds) identified needs, planned, coordinated work through 6 committees and acted since Sept 25.
Our church has been responsible for cooking every day since for 300-350 people per day. As we have running water and a "Purification Water Team" of a Disaster Relief Group of North Carolina Baptist Men, we have been providing purified water to our community and so far to 7 other cities, specially in distant areas in the country side.
There have been unimaginable challenges, like not having access to communication (phones, internet, health insurance to pay for prescriptions, etc.), no power (we have a generator but is old and have been more days broken than working), long lines to buy basic things (like gas or food we need to cook for people each day), and limited availability of everything, among others. In spite of all this, team work, solidarity, love and willingness to make a difference have kept us moving.
How can you help? I will share needs we have identified, internal and in the community. But please know that ANY help or effort is greatly appreciated!
- 1. Batteries (AA, AAA, C, D)- all we can get.
- 2. Tarps- we need 200 to cover partially or totally damaged roofs in our community.
- 3. Construction materials (wood panels, zinc sheets, etc) for a more stable fix of the roofs. Community Architects are doing assessments and helping.
- 4. Small battery radios- as many as possible.
- 5. Any solar powered products (fans, lanterns/lights, cell phone chargers, etc).
6. The church needs:
- A. 9,000k generator to temporarily energize our kitchen area and have refrigerator and freezer available. We received one as a donation, but we need another one to alternate in 12 hr periods.
- B. Money to pay to change our old (more permanent) generator. Honestly, at this time would be the best investment, but hard to find!
- C. Money to buy propane gas to cook, diesel and pay for maintenance to the generator.
- D. Money to assist people in buying some equipment and furniture lost.
- E. Money to buy groceries to keep cooking until electricity is back. Most elderly and low income families have electric powered stoves. Again, thanks for any assistance you may provide.
Supplies can be sent to: Rev. Laura Ayala, First Baptist Church of Rio Piedras, Apdo 21342, San Juan, PR 00928.