Due to the damage caused by hurricane Maria, our telephone line is still not in service. You may contact us via email
, but please understand that we have gotten so many messages of support in the last few months (thank you!) that it has been difficult to catch up, and it may take some time to respond.
The pace of recovery has been frustratingly slow. The roads are extremely deteriorated and only some traffic lights have power, so driving around is still quite hazardous. In many places outside the San Juan metro area the situation is still dire, with entire communities continuing without electricity or access to drinking water, and many roads destroyed by landslides. The collapsed infrastructure seriously impacted the already recession-weakened economy. Many people have still not been able to return to work, and many small and mid-sized businesses have been forced to shut their doors indefinitely. Over 100,000 people have fled the island.
Many members of our congregation are still without power and some of us are also still without running water. We have been adjusting to the possibility that this very uncomfortable reality may just be the "new normal."
It has been difficult to keep our website updated, but things are improving somewhat. Leaves have grown back on the trees that remained standing, which had been stripped bare. The power is back in many areas. We have had power and water back at the Temple since mid-November, and we are holding regular services. Our Rabbi returned in mid-December, which means that our congregation has had more direct support for the spiritual aspect of this crisis as well.
Because the immediate emergency has passed, and because we have been fortunate in getting donations of generators and water filters and even money for the most distressed cases from the JFNA, the URJ, and individual families and congregations, the immediate emergency needs of water, food, medicine, etc. of the members of our congregation have abated.
We continue to receive support from people such as yourself, and we continue to extend that support to other communities that are still in need whenever we receive goods we know are still needed. Thanks to some very generous donors, we were able to distribute over 250 water purifiers to families in San Juan, Canóvanas, Las Marías, Añasco, Cayey, Utuado, and Comerío.
However, Temple Beth Shalom will be feeling the effects financially for quite some time. Our building has been damaged but can be repaired with the funds donated from individual families and congregations. What cannot be repaired so easily is the financial hit that many congregants were met with which makes it impossible for them to pay their dues to the Temple, as they need their money to feed their families.
Because we were without power for so long, we now believe it is essential to switch to solar power permanently, so as to never again be subject to the vagaries of the fractured power grid. We need to reduce our energy needs to make it more cost effective to produce our own energy with solar power. We are evaluating our current energy consumption and identifying ways to reduce it, including redesigning our air conditioning system. Our kitchen appliances, especially our freezer and refrigerator, were all donated long ago and need to be replaced with energy efficient appliances. We need a resilient solar power system that can power the entire building that is hurricance-proff, or can at least be easily taken apart and brought inside to protect it from future hurricanes.
You can help us meet this goal by making a donation here.
Again, thank you for having TBS and the island in your thoughts,