Help Puerto Rico

A letter to the Agudas Achim Community from Mirza Lopez:

Click here to donate online.

   As most of you know, after my retirement I went to Puerto Rico to take care of my dad. I returned to Virginia on August 8 but by August 21 I had to return to Puerto Rico as my dad was getting a pace maker and needed someone to help him. During his recovery Hurricane Irma arrived making it impossible for me to return to my home. The day I was to return, Hurricane Maria hit the island and we were left with no way to communicate, no power and no water. For nine days I had no means to communicate with my family. They were desperate, wondering how I and other family members in the island were. You can imagine how desperate we were with no water and no electricity. Gasoline, food, and supplies were not available. Because the island’s trees have been totally destroyed, the temperatures went up by 10 to 15 degrees from normal highs. We then had the million of mosquitoes to deal with. My hometown of Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico and is on the south coast. During my 12 days there I never saw anyone from FEMA or any military personnel. Only the neighbors themselves had to band together and start moving the debris so they could move around the city.

   Thanks to the efforts of my two sons I was able to leave the island with my Dad, brother and sister-in-law in a private plane they procured. The plane arrived with supplies desperately needed to help the people, but much more is needed. We have found this is the best way to help; having the supplies reach the groups in need directly, not depending on distribution by the authorities.

   Three weeks later the communications have improved somewhat and the gasoline distribution is almost back to normal so people can travel to try and purchase the essentials if they can find them. Only 20% of the people have electricity leaving 80% in the dark, also 55% are waiting to get the water service back. Grocery stores are closing because they have no merchandise or produce to sell. Even people with financial resources are in great need since credit cards cannot be used (no power) and all transactions must be in cash. Most banks only allow $50 to $100 dollar withdrawals after waiting in line for three or four hours.

   Sharon Montanez & Melvin Ramos, Fernando & Doris Montanez have family in the towns of Ceiba and Naguabo. My family is in San Juan and Ponce. Thank God they are all alright and surviving. My family is the contacts I use to distribute the help for the people that are in desperate needs.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart,


    The most urgent need is for cash donations to cover the shipping charges and to distribute cash for needs such as gasoline for generators.  Please make financial contributions to: Agudas Achim Congregation Rabbi’s discretionary fund with “Puerto Rico” in the memo line.  Click here to donate online.  Or give cash.

   Please bring your donations of urgent supplies to the box marked Puerto Rico in the Agudas Lobby.  Agudas Achim is collecting the following critically needed items for the people of Puerto Rico.

  • Batteries – C & D size
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Flashlights
  • Solar Celullar Chargers
  • Solar Lights
  • Battery operated Fans
  • Solar Rechargeable Batteries
  • Sanitizer
  • Camp stoves
  • Insect Repellent OFF
  • Wipes
  • Water Filters
  • Bottled Water
  • Paper Plates
  • Paper Towels
  • Milk
  • Can Food Products
  • Over the counter medicines
  • First Aid Kits
  • Adult Pampers
  • Pads for Beds
  • Ensure
  • PediaSure
  • Baby food
  • Glucerna

Charities that are working directly on Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico:

  1.  Direct Relief, employees are visiting hospitals and health providers around Puerto Rico to find out what kind of medicines and medical equipment they need and then will supply them with medications such as antibiotics, mental health drugs, and hemophilia medications for children.
  2. Save the Children, is working with partners such as American Red Cross and FEMA in evacuation centers to make sure there are supplies needed by children, such as wipes, diapers, cribs, and playpens, as well as bassinets for bathing. 
  3. Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund is raising money to meet hurricane and earthquake-related needs and recovery in Puerto Rico and Mexico.