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SBP AmeriCorps Members Deploy to San Juan, Puerto Rico

Team Providing Logistics and Warehouse Management Support as Hurricane Maria Relief Effort Continues

On October 13th, one SBP staff member and four AmeriCorps members deployed to San Juan, Puerto Rico where they will spend one month providing logistics support and warehouse management to help speed the disbursement of humanitarian relief supplies to populations in need across the island following Hurricane Maria. 

The team will also distribute SBP's post-disaster homeowner resource documents, particularly SBP's "Mold Remediation" guide and "Navigating FEMA" guide - both have been translated into Spanish.

The deployment marks SBP's first deployment outside of the continental United States.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) which administers AmeriCorps, has deployed more than 100 members to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since Hurricane Maria made landfall. SBP is proud to play a role in the vital relief and humanitarian efforts currently underway on Puerto Rico. 

UPDATES 

October 14th - SBP team of 5 served with Salvation Army at their main distribution warehouse in Caraguas. Together, both organized and packaged 10,530 pounds of food in to deliverable boxes, creating 7,560 individual meals to be delivered to populations in need.

October 15th - Early in the morning, SBP and Salvation Army packed over 5 pallets of food and loaded 3 minivans and 2 box trucks with MRE's and water. The group of trucks then split up and drove to two towns - Toa Alta, and Huamaco. In Toa Alta all supplies were distributed in less than an hour. In Humacoa, supplies were distributed to a public housing neighborhood that did not have running water, with the closest water supply  a 30 minute walk away. Many people were seniors and disabled and were unable to get to this water source, so the supplies delivered were welcomed relief. 

October 16th - Distributed: 6,768 pounds of food, 3,632 gallons of water. SBP and Salvation Army loaded 2 box trucks and 9 vehicles with pre-packed food and water to distribute in Toa Alta and Aquadilla. Two US Homeland Security Investigation teams joined us today as security details and to help distribute the supplies.

Team A went to Toa Alto and distributed food and water at a public housing complex. DHS medical personnel provided medicine and treatment including to an infant born shortly after the storm who had contracted conjunctivitis.

Team B went to Aquadilla to follow up with a lead on a housing complex that had not received food or water in 20 days. They unloaded their truck for the entire neighborhood including 22 bed-ridden people. While connecting with community leaders, they were able to identify another neighborhood of 400 that requires food and water as well.

October 17th - Distributed: 11,924 pounds of food, 2,092 gallons of water. SBP, Salvation Army, and a team from the Department of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), completed delivery missions again today. Team A took 2 security jeeps, a van, and a box truck full of food and water to a small untouched community near the Toa Alta municipality. These families had not received any food or water since the storm. Nearly 25 food boxes were left with the employees of the local community center for homebound elderly and those who were not able to receive food directly from the truck.

Team B traveled to Humacao with 4 security vehicles, 1 van and 1 semi truck full of food and water. They distributed meals from a community center near the border of the Humacoa and Yabucoa municipalities. A few cases of water were left at the center for families who were unable to make it to the distribution site.

October 18th - Distributed 7,282 pounds of MREs, 8,497 gallons of water. Half of the SBP team went with Salvation Army and HSI to Toa Baja and distributed food, water, and bug spray door to door for those who couldn't leave their homes. They also did a mass distribution in a community that had not received assistance since the storm. The community was heavily affected by the rain from Maria and was inundated with 3-6 feet of mud from overflow from the river. 

The other half of the team loaded 2 US Army flat bed trucks with 36 pallets of water that will go to Salvation Army Corps in Guayama and Ponce for local distribution.

October 19th - Distributed 1,5547 pounds of food, 1,643 gallons of water. SBP supported Salvation Army on two fire missions as well as in the main SA warehouse. The field team was again accompanied by Homeland Security Investigation agents for logistical support. One of the SBP team members also accompanied Salvation Army leadership and served as an interpreter between SA and two philanthropic guests who were interested in establishing a water filter distribution program.

Team A went to Campanilla in the municipality of Toa Baja distributed a box truck full of food and water to citizens in need of supplies.  The team also partnered with local community leaders to make door-to-door deliveries to handicap and elderly individuals.

Team B went to Ingenio, also in the municipality of Toa Baja, to distribute food and water as well. They participated in door to door distributions as well as distributed from the truck at a central site. 

October 20th - Supplies Unloaded: 77,100 pounds of food, 14,333 gallons of water. Distributed 5,880 pounds of food, 1,210 gallons of water. The SBP PR Deployment team provided assistance with two critical missions. The first was accompanying Salvation Army on a fire mission to Utuado.  Utuado has been virtually inaccessible since Hurricane Maria due to severe damage to roads and bridges. The fire team distributed food to local community leaders and organizations who will provide the supplies directly to homeowners.  An SBP member also accompanied SA and the philanthropic guest to a run off pipe that local families had been using to collect rain water. While there they distributed 4 boxes of the water filters which can be used to purify 42,000 gallons of water.

The warehouse team assisted SA in unloading 9 tractor trailers of food and water. The teams training in forklift operator and pallet jacking were of great help in unloading dozens of pallets of supplies. In their down time between incoming trucks, they packed two pallets of food boxes for distribution in the coming weeks.

October 21st - Distributed 5,468 pounds of food, 1,163 gallons of water. Today, SBP assisted Salvation Army with a “fire mission” in the municipality of Juncos. The distribution was held in a low income community that has received little to no assistance since the hurricanes.  SBP and Salvation Army connected with a local community leader who assisted the team in organizing distribution to families by their apartment number.  This allowed for fair distribution of food and ensured that supplies were delivered to the most vulnerable members of the community.  In total, the team provided food and water to approximately 200 families.

After completing food distribution, the team accompanied a few volunteers and SA staff into the mountainous areas of Juncos.  The people in these areas have been getting water from local rivers and streams which has contributed to the spread of waterborne illness and conjunctivitis.  Filters and water were delivered to several families.  Each filter can clean over 300 gallons of water and each family was provided with three filters meaning clean water for weeks.  

October 22nd - SBP AmeriCorps members assisted our peers on this ADRT Deployment, Washington Conservation Corps, with debris clearing, damage assessments, and coordination with FEMA at the JFO.

The field team traveled with WCC to a remote region of the municipality of Toa Baja. This community was heavily impacted by both high winds and flooding with many homes being damaged by falling trees. Hurricane Maria also caused major damage to the sewage lines of many homes causing human waste to run off in large pools throughout the community especially behind people’s homes.  SBP’s Americorps members assisted homeowners with completing the lengthy paperwork required by FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers in order to receive assistance. SBP's fluent Spanish speakers were extremely helpful and made the paperwork process significantly easier for both the WCC team and homeowners.

One SBP AmeriCorps member and one staff member assisted WCC at the Joint Field Office. Additionally, the SBP team was able to work with FEMA GIS mapping specialists to create maps of hazardous road ways for the field teams which allow for safer travel.

October 23rd - Distributed 6,825 pounds of food, 1,672 gallons of water. SBP and Salvation Army completed two fire missions today in the municipalities of Juncos and Manatí.

Team A went to Juncos and distributed food in a total of 3 neighborhoods that had not received food or water since the storm.

Team B went on a fire mission to a neighborhood in the Manatí municipality. On arrival, there were already lines forming for the supplies.  Each family received a box of food and a case of water with additional supplies being left with the church for further distribution. The community was so grateful for the assistance that they insisted on feeding all of the volunteers.

October 24th - Distributed 8,106 pounds of food, 2,051 gallons of water, 2,500 pounds of donations sorted. The SBP team began today by loading two trucks with supplies for the hard hit areas of Arecibo and Fajardo. The total amounts of supplies heading for these communities was 5,859 pounds of food and 1,327 gallons of water. The team then assisted Salvation Army on a Fire Mission in the municipality of Las Piedras.  The team delivered food and water at a local school to be distributed to the community. Upon arrival at the school, a group of students quickly joined the team and created a fire line to unload the truck.  The energy and positive nature of the students was truly inspiring.

Story of Resilience: The SBP team met Glenda today while distributing food in Las Piedras.  Glenda was the local contact for the distribution and is a pastor at a local church.  Glenda was so thankful for the assistance of Salvation Army and SBP that she insisted on taking the volunteers to the nearby bakery of her brother-in-law.  At the bakery, Glenda shared with the team her experience during both Hurricane Maria and Irma.  She was grateful that her home had survived the storms but the suffering on her community weighed heavily upon her.  Shortly after Hurricane Maria passed over her area, her family rushed to reopen their three bakeries in order to continue feeding the community.  The community was in such need that frequently the line would go far down the street. They would typically sell all of their stock by 1 pm and would close the doors and immediately begin baking again for the next day.  While the challenges in the community are daunting, her courage and perseverance was an inspiration to everyone.

October 25th - SBP AmeriCorps members served out of the Salvation Army warehouse in Caguas.  There they sorted over 2,000 pounds of various donations that can be repacked and distributed to families in need across Puerto Rico.

Mark Smith, SBP’s Deployment Lead, has transitioned into a role as the Planning Chief and Operations Co-Chief of the AmeriCorp Disaster Response Team.  This role allows for more AmeriCorps members to serve clients directly in the field and paves the way for future AmeriCorps teams to conduct operations across the island.

October 26th - Distributed 4,578 pounds of food, 1,024 gallons of water, 2,113 pounds of donations sorted. SBP AmeriCorps Members Marcia Daniels and Courtney Hass accompanied Salvation Army on a distribution to a neighborhood in Juncos. A distribution of food and water conducted just days before but the need was so great that not everyone could be served at that time. Today, the team unloaded 4 pallets of water and 6 pallets of food for the community. Local police officers and community members assisted in organizing and conducting the distribution which ensured a that the operation went smoothly.

Another SBP AmeriCorps member, Margot Habets, has begun working with Salvation Army Liaisons at the Joint Field Office assisting with distribution logistics and planning. Her strong skillset as a planner and technical experience will be a huge asset to Salvation Army’s operations.

Brian Litt assisted Salvation Army in the warehouse loading and unloading trucks of supplies.  His skills with a forklift and strong work ethic has been a value add to the warehouse operations.

October 27th - Distributed 512 gallons of water, sorted 138,072 pounds of donations. Three SBP team members accompanied Salvation Army personnel on a delivery of desperately needed water to an elderly community in the municipality of Caguas.  The community had reached out to Salvation Army for assistance and was very grateful for the much needed supplies.  

After hand delivering water, the team returned to the Salvation Army warehouse and unloaded 4 tractor trailers full of food and water.  In one afternoon the team unloaded and sorted 138,072 pounds of food and water that will be distributed across the island to individuals and families in need.