Supporting those affected by hurricane Maria

Contributed by Daniel Colón-Ramos

Earlier this month, Hurricane Maria cut a destructive path across Puerto Rico. Rescuing Biomedical Research member Daniel Colón-Ramos has put together some straightforward strategies for members of the biomedical research community wanting to help those affected by the hurricane both in Puerto Rico and in the mainland U.S.

  1. Acknowledge the crisis
  • Members of the institution’s community have been directly and indirectly impacted by the devastation caused by Maria. Many people have loved ones and collaborators who are in the midst of the crisis.
  • Hurricane Maria, has left 3.5 million people without power in the archipelago of Puerto Rico in a massive humanitarian crisis. Almost 100 percent of the population has no power and 75 percent don’t have water service at home. Approximately 80 percent of the population does not have communication, as landlines, cell towers and internet access are severely affected.
  1. Provide support
  • Provide a specific list of resources that the institution could offer to support members of its community that have been directly or indirectly affected by Hurricane Maria.
  1. Provide suggestions of outside support (links collected and vetted by CenadoresPR and CienciaPR)
  • If people need to find information about family, friends or community in Puerto Rico, email the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration at or contact them at 202.800.3133 or 202.800.3134.
  • Another organization providing assistance to PRFAA is the Puerto Rico Family Institute at 212.414.7895.
  • Google has activated its Google Person Finder
  • The American Red Cross has a Safe and Well page, where survivors can register and post messages, and loved ones can search for registrants.
  • Those worried about missing friends or relatives with a serious health condition are encouraged to call the Red Cross at 1.800.733.2767 so volunteers on the ground can follow-up.
  1. Provide the community with ways to contribute to the recovery (links collected and vetted by CenadoresPR and CienciaPR)
  • Donations to vetted organizations
    • Donate to USVI Hurricane Recovery to help rebuild the battered U.S. Virgin Islands, or to the Red Cross the help island nations recovering from the hurricanes in the Caribbean.
    • United for Puerto Rico is a 501(c)(3) developed by the office of the First Lady Beatriz Rossello. Funds will go directly to help rebuild homes.
    • AmeriCares is a relief and development organization which provides health services to those in need, and is working with officials in Puerto Rico and USVI to stock emergency shelters with medical supplies.
  • CienciaPR has created this registration form to help coordinate and disseminate offers of aid to scientists and students in Puerto Rico and other areas of the Caribbean, whose work has been affected by Hurricane Maria. As communication with Puerto Rico re-establishes, we will work with scientists in Puerto Rico to channel offers and requests for aid. We also published this list with more information that is relevant to the scientific community.
  • Advocate that the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation provide assistance and deadline extensions for researchers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands affected by hurricane Maria. Nothing has been updated on their websites with regards to hurricane Maria (NSF, NIH)
  1. Future outlook: Commit to keeping a close eye on how events unfold and be ready to lead in assistance to academic colleagues and students in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean impacted by Maria, and use its expertise in a collaborative way in future rebuilding efforts.