On September 18 Just two days before the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Fiona swept through Puerto Rico, leaving flood damage, blackouts and destruction across the archipelago. More than 21 deaths have been attributed to the storm, homes have been bombed, and thousands of people remain without electricity. There is still a long way to go to recovery, and while many local nonprofits and organizations have come forward, to fill in the lackluster efforts from the government, some of Puerto Rico’s most well-known artists, including Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro and PJ Sin Suela, are also taking steps. Great for helping fellow Boricuas.
Last weekend, Rauw Alejandro worked right on the ground with his manager Eric Duars of Duars Entertainment and his team, distributing supplies and 150 generators to people experiencing power outages after the storm. Puerto Rico’s fragile power grid, which collapsed after Maria, had dire consequences – even hospitals lost their power after Fiona. About 80 percent of the main island has regained strength, according to Lama Energythe embattled private company that was hired last year and took charge of power distribution, an increase that only came after mayors and locals complained about Loma’s slow action (just three days ago, less than 50 percent of people had power again).
Rauw and his team came up with a quick plan and partnered with several organizations, then hit up neighborhoods to find out what people needed most. The artist says it was first-hand experience that made him want to help: he was living on the island when Maria was hit and he remembers his suffering when he was on his feet again. “In those days, I was finding it hard to work,” he says. rolling rock. “I wasn’t old or famous or all that. I was just working for my family, to make my dreams come true, so I didn’t have anything. We were two months without electricity or water – it was hard.”
Rapper PJ Sin Suela, who also works as a doctor and first responder in Puerto Rico, travels across the island to take part in pop-up clinics, to get a first-hand look at the damage. talk to me rolling rock After examining more than 100 people in the town of Toa Baja, his last stop was with fellow doctors as they provide free checkups to local residents.
“from pons [in the south] To Mayagüez and Rincon [in the west]people lost entire homes as the flood level reached two feet, and in some cases five to six feet.
While the residents initially hoped the damage wouldn’t be as bad as Maria, the Category 1 storm left more destruction in its wake than expected. Many municipalities are reporting more damage to homes and infrastructure due to flooding than five years ago, and now viral video showing A temporary bridge was swept away in the town of Ottoado Evidence of how dangerous high floods in rivers are. Particularly hard-hit areas include the southern and southwestern parts of the archipelago that were already recovering from several natural disasters, including the 2020 earthquake that shook the foundations of many buildings and homes.
“This is an area that feels neglected by the news, the media and the government, and they need a lot of help,” says PJ Sin Suela.
Bad Bunny is currently playing in sold-out pitches across the country as part of the World’s Most Important Tour, but that hasn’t stopped him from finding ways to help from afar. He began attaching a QR code to concert bracelets directing fans to the many vetted organizations that support the hardest-hit communities. Some of these include Techos Pa ‘Mi Gentethat works to rebuild damaged rooftops; Casa pueblo, which is dedicated to the preservation of natural and cultural resources; And the Foster Club, helping abandoned and stray dogs and cats that are especially vulnerable during natural disasters. Other organizations that have been at the forefront of relief efforts are Taller Saluda group of feminist community organizations that assist marginalized communities, and Brigada Solidaria del Oestewhich is assisting with clean-up and rebuilding efforts on the western and southern sides of the island.
PJ Sin Suela points out that successive disasters have affected the mental health of many Puerto Ricans in an alarming way. “Mental health is very concerning in these cities because even people with up-to-date physiques who take their medication break down into tears when they talk to you,” he says. “They’ve been through Maria and the earthquakes and now this new flood.”
For many, community efforts and artist support are essential. Trust in the government has fallen further in the years since the island-wide protests that led to the ouster of former governor Ricardo Rossello in 2019. People also have little confidence after the Trump administration failed in relief efforts – and late Billions of money – after Maria. at recent days, Reports appear FEMA funds for disaster relief have been disbursed at an icy pace, with only $40 million being used in the past five years, out of more than $13 billion earmarked for Post-Maria Island.
“One of the things I thought during Maria’s time was that if I ever made music and had the resources to help my people, I would do it. It’s the least I can do,” says Rao Alejandro. “I will not wait for the government to help people, because that never happens.” .”
Bad Bunny has spoken forcefully against the current administration, pausing for a moment during a show in Las Vegas on September 23 to talk to the crowd about what’s happening back home. “Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and not just because I’m from there — because of its beaches, rivers, culture, and people,” he said before adding, “Five years ago we lost a lot of people to a hurricane, and now we’re getting hit again.” He lamented the lack of leadership, saying, “We have to do everything ourselves because we have a hostile government that makes itself rich and puts the people at the last of its priority list.” He urged Puerto Ricans to take action and remove “the people who keep us frustrated” before the release of “El Apagón,” a song that highlights injustice in Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria disrupted mobile and internet service across the island, but cellular signals were not affected yet for Fiona, helping people spread the word and speed recovery efforts. Rauw says his team will continue to explore parts of Puerto Rico most in need and do what they can. “The stores, everything is going really fast, so we need to wait for the material to continue to be renewed,” he says. “It will be long. It is not like in one week and things will be fine. This is a big, great business.”
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