About Persons with Disabilities After the Hurricane Maria Impacted Puerto Rico
Yessica M. Guardiola Marrero
As many know, Puerto Ricans and other residents in Borinquen are living difficult days of the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and María. Unfortunately, the situation has impacted negatively the life, health and equitable access to the services needed by many people, including persons of all ages with visible and invisible disabilities of all kinds. Many people lost their houses, many others still have no potable water or electricity in their homes. Communication and transportation have been compromised, thus causing logistical issues that have significantly slowed down the island’s efforts to bounce back from the hit, and even left some helpless. The PR and Federal Governments have announced that several regional centers will be established for distribution of water and food. The lines to buy and access food, water, fuel, ice, among other basic things, are very long, more than a week after the event. Official or confirmed information is limited and hard to access. Even though, we read very alarming news, such as that about 200 people have died from lack of oxygen, and in many cases, others from the lack of electricity in the emergency rooms.
The Movement to Achieve Independent Living (MAVI by its Spanish acronym), a private, non-profit organization that have been an independent living center for youth and adults with disabilities for 28 years in Puerto Rico, is conducting a study of the needs of individuals with disabilities that remain in shelters. In collaboration with the Northeast ADA Center (NEADA), the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (NCLD), as well as all entities and volunteers who want to join, will serve as a link so that these people with disabilities can access the corresponding resources to support them. To join this initiative, send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, a young Puerto Rican has created a free digital app that works without having to be connected to the Internet, through which existing needs in any part of the Puerto Rican archipelago can be documented and aid resources directly coordinated, for more information visit: www.conectarecursos.com. Likewise, many other initiatives have spontaneously emerged to support those most in need in this situation. While it is true that times like these seem to be too long, our resilience and will are greater, eventually the sun will rise and peace will come with an improved Puerto Rico. We’ll Overcome This!
Yessica M. Guardiola-Marrero
Co-Founder of the CNLD
Technical Assistance Specialist for MAVI-NEADA in PR