According to the Department of Energy, 40 percent of Puerto Rico and 60 percent of the Virgin Islands remain without power nearly three months after Hurricane Maria. This impacts not only residents, but schools, hospitals and grocery stores.
Pittsburghers have continued to send relief to these hurricane-stricken areas, building on efforts that began in September.
Brother's Brother Foundation has sent dozens of shipments of food, water and humanitarian supplies to the islands with the help of local food drives, the medical community and Pittsburgh-based companies. The foundation said it's sent nearly 100 shipments combined to Texas, Florida and the Caribbean in the last few months.
Luke Hingson, president of the foundation, said the situation in Texas and Florida is much better now than it is in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
"If you're on an island where 40 percent of people don't have power, that means maybe a third of businesses that employ people aren't working or aren't working well," Hingson said. "Therefore, the people that got income there don't have money to buy food, health care or clothes."
While Hingson said donations have slowed since September, he believes the foundation will have enough resources to continue relief shipments to the islands through the first half of next year, if needed.
"People in all these places are working to make their lives better and it will get there," he said. "We're just helping them get there a little faster, I think."
Ron Alvarado, chairman of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Brother’s Brother Foundation is filling a much-needed gap in relief – covering expensive shipping costs for packages such as generators.
Since Hurricane Maria hit, Alvarado, Hingson and Hispanic business and healthcare leaders in Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico have a weekly conference call to update each other on progress on the ground and in relief efforts.
“We’ll keep meeting until the work is done,” Alvarado said.