Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico

September 2017

Puerto Rico was hit by level 4 Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017. This has been and continues to be one of the most devastating and complex hurricane response efforts in recent history. The aging infrastructure of this U.S. Territory, remote island location, and a challenging economic climate, made normal relief efforts difficult if not impossible. What has been truly amazing is the strong impact of grassroots organizations working together to provide relief where the larger NGOs could not.

Once the leadership team assessment was completed, OpenWorld Relief remained in Puerto Rico for two years providing long-term relief and recovery, with the following core missions:

Medical Clinics and Response Teams—We hosted medical clinics for general care with a focus on psychological support.

Business Redevelopment and Construction—We moved through the municipalities most in need until all 78 on the island had been assisted. We helped businesses reopen as part of our economic impact strategy to get businesses open so they could provide services to residents. After that we will moved on to the hardest hit residential properties.

Eco-Friendly Construction and Implementation—In partnership with Earthship Biotecture we assisted with the building of four commercial-use properties, in each quadrant of the island, in conjunction with the Earthship Academy build in Aguada.

Voluntourism—We implemented voluntour programs in which volunteers had access to tour guides and unique cultural experiences built into their mission schedule. This concept benefitseveryone involved and changes the dynamic of what disaster relief volunteering normally looks like.