Due to the damage caused by hurricane Maria, our telephone line is still not in service. You may contact us via email
or through our Facebook page
, where you can also see more periodic updates and photos documenting our recovery.
In the wake of the hurricane, many members of our congregation are in need of many items, including food and water. There are local efforts working on meeting these needs, but these efforts are not enough to sustain everyone's needs. For the first time in a very long time, hunger and thirst are serious issues in Puerto Rico. It has been more than a month after the storm, and the electric grid is still mostly collapsed.
Due to the continuous flooding, there is now also an increased risk of outbreak of waterborne illnesses like leptospirosis and diseases spread by mosquitos like dengue, chuikungunya and zika. Extensive landslides in the mountainous regions of the island have made it extremely difficult to reach and assist isolated and vulnerable communities. In addition, the collapsed infrastructure has seriously impacted the already recession-weakened economy. Most people have not been able to return to work, and many small and mid-sized businesses have been forced to shut their doors indefinitely.
The situation is critical. If you have friends or family in Puerto Rico, please consider sending them money directly via PayPal, wire transfer, or other electronic method. They most likely need it.
We are also running a fundraiser to help us in our own rebuilding efforts: http://tbspr.org/hurricane-maria-relief
All funds will go to relief efforts of our own community and other local recovery efforts. You can specify in the comment when donating if you want the funds to go to a specific recovery effort.
For those who would prefer to donate goods instead of cash, there is a link on that page to a registry where items can be purchased. These items will be distributed to people in need.
Please be aware that mail delivery is still exremely unreliable. Please only send goods if you must. Otherwise, please consider making a monetary donation insted.
If you wish to send boxes of non-perishable food items, diapers, feminine hygeine products, and other essential items to be distributed to families in need, they can be sent to our temporary address:
Temple Beth Shalom
c/o Salatiel Cruz
PO Box 363752
San Juan, PR 00936
Since we do not know how long this crisis may last, other more medium- to long-term items (like portable propane stoves with adapters for bulk cannisters, hand-held battery-operated rechargeable fans, solar-powered light bulbs, solar chargers and battery packs for electronics, and mosquito nets) are still desperately needed, not only for members of our congregation but also the community at large.
Our Temple, specifically, suffered some flooding damage in the kitchen and religious school. We are still in the process of evaluating the damage but we do know that we will need to replace acoustic panels from our ceiling, and possibly our refrigerator and freezer. There is extensive mold damage that we will probably be dealing with for a long time. It is possible that some of this may be covered by our insurance, but it is too early to tell. Even after repairs, to make the building fully usable, including the office, it will still require electricity.
We are currently only using the building for Shabbat morning services, plugging pedestal fans into a small generator with extension cords, which is barely suitable to hold back the sweltering heat, but enough for the congregation to be able to stay during services, have lunch together, and leave shortly after.
The official predictions for when the electricity will return are not reliable and are constantly changing. It is possible that it will return within the next few weeks, or it might take months. We have been considering alternatives such as a diesel generator, but we are concerned about the impact of what the operating expenses might be if we are to face months without power. We also are concerned that our roof (the only outdoor area we have access to) might not be able to withstand the weight of a diesel generator. This has led us to seriously consider the possibility of switching to solar power as a permanent solution, which has an increased installation cost, but will make us more resilient in the future. If you would like to help us make this a reality, please consider making a donation to our fundraiser at: http://tbspr.org/hurricane-maria-relief
For the time being, our administrator is working from a shared office space generously donated to us by Foundation for Puerto Rico that does have power and internet access.
Again, thank you so much for your support! Feel free to share this information with everyone, we need all the help we can get!