Hurricane Maria: What We Know

Feeding America is working around the clock to help those devastated by Hurricane Maria

September 22, 2017
by Brooke Still

Updated September 26, 2017

We know now that Hurricane Maria has devastated much of Puerto Rico. Widespread power, phone and internet outages continue to create communication challenges. Fuel shortages and road closures are inhibiting travel around the island, preventing people from accessing food and supplies. The airport in San Juan is open, yet officials are canceling many flights to prioritize military aircrafts and relief charters.

The challenges of this recovery are unique to anything Feeding America has encountered before. Regardless, we are meeting the challenge head on to support Feeding America network member food bank Banco De Alimentos de Puerto Rico and to help as many Puerto Ricans as possible. Here is where we stand:

  • Luckily, Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico did not sustain damage from the hurricane, but sadly, one staff member lost his home. We are grateful that the food bank has been able to confirm that all of its staff members are safe.
  • Food bank staff in Puerto Rico will likely be working every day for the next few weeks despite power outages and limited ability to communicate with their 110 food distribution partners.
  • We have shipments of disaster boxes, food and water ready as soon as transportation, warehousing and distribution is available. We anticipate that at least six shipments will be delivered in Puerto Rico this week.
  • Feeding America continues to work with corporate partners, major gift donors and foundations to secure donations in support of disaster relief, including the hugely successful Hand in Hand Hurricane Relief telethon last week. Many national donors have already stepped up with offers of support for Puerto Rico relief efforts.

Feeding America staff is already on the ground in Puerto Rico, and we expect to be sending more in the coming weeks. To help make these relief efforts as impactful as possible, please consider making a donation to Feeding America or Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico.

Right now, we are witnessing the profound devastation that this record-setting hurricane season has wreaked on Puerto Rico. We are deeply concerned about our colleagues at Feeding America member Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico and the people of Puerto Rico, who after Hurricane Irma are now dealing with a second wave of devastation from Hurricane Maria. The entire island is without electricity and telephones and they are dangerously low on gasoline that is needed to power generators used to carry on essential services.

Feeding America has been in communication with Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico as we have supported the food bank in preparing to respond to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We helped send 500 disaster boxes — boxes filled with shelf-stable items that are easy-to-open and often ready-to-eat — to the island and are working to send more food and supplies. After the current storm passes, we will be ready to work with the food bank to support their relief efforts. We have already had some initial contact with the food bank on Friday, September 22, and fortunately the food bank is not damaged. Most of the food bank staff are faring well, and we are working to connect with them as much as possible now. We have staff ready to deploy to Puerto Rico to provide support however they can. When the airport is open and Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico is ready, we will also begin moving food and supplies to the food bank.

We have been deeply encouraged by the energy and compassion of so many people as they contribute to disaster relief efforts with incredible speed, agility and empathy. People like you are playing a vital role in serving hurricane-scarred communities.

Our neighbors need us now more than ever. Please consider making a gift to Feeding America or Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico to help the victims of disaster.