Residents of the territory of Puerto Rico are still struggling to recover from the devastation of this year's massive hurricanes and more than 350 American Red Cross disaster workers are there, supporting relief efforts on the island.
Recently American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern visited Puerto Rico to see firsthand the current situation there and how the Red Cross is helping people who have lost everything. (See slide show) Her trip included a visit to CanÃ³vanas, where relief workers are providing food and comfort, along with water filters to help ensure the water people use is safe from bacteria, viruses and toxins. The Red Cross has distributed thousands of the high-volume water filters across the U.S. territory.
Since Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico, as of November 28 the Red Cross and its partners have served more than 6 million meals and snacks, distributed more than 2.9 million relief supplies, and provided more than 26,900 mental health and health services to people in need.
In Puerto Rico, emergency relief efforts continue with a strong sense of urgency. Red Cross teams are in the field daily, distributing life-sustaining food and water, and providing home visits for health and mental health needs to island residents. Many people are still living without power and remain isolated.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left an indelible imprint on Puerto Rico. There are little or no banana or plantain plants remaining, a food staple. Fruit trees of every kind have been decimated on the island, impacting food availability and income sources for years to come. Banana family crops will take a year to recover. Locals say that mature avocado trees will likely take five years to bear fruit again, if they survived at all as Hurricane Maria completely upended many productive trees.