National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via The New York Times

Improvised Life’s most shared Facebook post this week was about what to do to help Puerto Rico, so recently devastated by Hurricane Maria. It clearly hit a nerve as awareness grows that our government has been slow to address just how dire the situation is a full week after the storm left 3.4 million Americans without power.

We imagine ourselves going a week — with no help in sight — without electricity, cell service or running water (and toilets), all the very mundane things we take for granted, and that are so utterly essential.

The School of Life

Reading-in to discover reasons for the delay in getting help to the island is deeply disturbing, not the least of which is Trump waffling on waiving the Jones Act, a century-old law that imposes exorbitant shipping costs on the island, because of pressure from shippers. Read an in-depth overview of the Jones Act here.  NOTE: Fast Company reported that Trump finally waived the Jones Act, at day 8 of the crisis. 

From left, DigitalGlobe via Google Earth; Ricardo Arduengo/Agence France-Presse

Don’t get us started! Side-by-side before-and-after photos tell the whole story. As the situation in Puerto Rico hourly begins to feel more and more like a  2017 version of Katrinaour focus is to direct you to ways you can help.


Where You Can Donate to Hurricane Relief Efforts:   


The New York Times’ How to Decide Where to Donate Your Money After Disasters gives an overview. 

Vox’s excellent Where you can donate to help with hurricane and earthquake relief and recovery includes an array of relief organizations and their rating from Charity Navigator.

Fast Company’s How to help Puerto Rico: 10 things you can do for Hurricane Maria victims right now includes Unidos por Puerto Rico, created by Puerto Rico’s first lady Beatriz Roselló to connect the private sector to those in need. Donations can be sent in a variety of ways, including PayPal.


Don’t have time to vet charities and just want to donate? The following get 4/4 stars on Charity Navigator:

Global Giving collects donations and redistributes the funds to vetted, locally focused organizations.

Americares is working with officials in Puerto Rico to stock emergency shelters with medical supplies. This is in addition to their airlift of $1.8 million worth of medicine and supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Elie Wiesel words written on a huge window at Lincoln Center could not say it more clearly…

Sally Schneider / Improvised Life


The opposite of life is indifference.

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2 replies on “How You Can Help Puerto Rico + Defy Indifference

  1. Unless we pressure the great orange me to allow access we can donate all we want and it will result in stockpiles unable to reach the people of Puerto Rico who need basic supplies of food, water and medicine. Would we go on with our daily routines if this were Florida? Drumpf is quietly staging a coup by executive order and it is despicable!

  2. You are right about putting pressure on the government. The question is how to do that. Via social media, perhaps. Commenting on straight media and getting them to cover the crisis more acutely?

    Re stockpiles: I leave it to outside organizations to figure out distribution, as Americares has historically been so good at. Puerto Rico is going to need a lot of help, LONG TERM, and I don’t believe there can be too much of it.

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