I’ve not said much about the struggles of Puerto Rico and much of the Caribbean caused by the “one-two” punch of hurricanes Irma and Maria. This isn’t because I felt the topic unworthy. Witnessing that much destruction was overwhelming. When I’m overwhelmed I need time to ponder. My initial pondering has run its course, and it’s past time I highlight this struggle in this space.
Or is it?
I have to admit, the tumbler that is the daily news cycle has shoved the aftermath of these storms out of the general consciousness of our culture. I, myself, have been paying attention to the stories coming out of this region and still had to look up the names of these storms which have caused such devastation. It amazes me how, even when we are trying to remain informed, the sheer glut of information pushed upon us each day can work against the development of both long-term memory and long-term empathy.
The reality is, weeks after the storm, even though the news cycle has moved on the people who survived have not. The majority of Puerto Rico, in particular, remains without either power or clean water. The lack of water is so desperate some people have resorted to drinking water pumped from a hazardous waste site. Meanwhile, our President has gone on twitter and intimated he can’t keep FEMA in Puerto Rico forever 1.
Puerto Rico’s clean up is going to take years. And with an executive branch which seems less than empathetic to any long-term issue, public awareness is going to be a key to its recovery. But it’s also going to take money and volunteer hours.
The Church I pastor has already designated our Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas offerings to be given to our denomination’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico. We’re also keeping our eyes open for service opportunities opening up in Puerto Rico, Florida, and Houston in the near future. We hope we’ll be able to go and lend a hand as well as our prayers and finances.
If you’d like to support the relief efforts for Puerto Rico, and have been wondering to which agency you’d like to give, I can recommend The American Baptist Home Missions Societies. Yes, the name is 19th Century 2, but the work is 21st. ABHMS spends years assisting regions as they recover from natural disasters. In fact, years after Superstorm Sandy they remain active in New Jersey. They are good folk.
And to all those recovering from this hurricane season, you are in my prayers.