Help letter carriers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands hurt by hurricanes (updated)
October 04, 2017
If your branch would like to send immediate financial help or supplies to your brother and sister NALC members in the Caribbean, call NALC Director of Safety and Health Manuel L. Peralta Jr. at NALC Headquarters in Washington, DC, at 202-662-2831.
Hurricane Maria’s recent direct hit on Puerto Rico has devastated that U.S. island territory in the Caribbean, while the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands are continuing their own long journey toward recovery following Hurricane Irma.
St. Croix and St. Thomas are the two heaviest populated U.S. Virgin Islands. After Hurricane Irma roared through the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 6, the northern island of St. Thomas reported extensive property damage—one postal facility was a total loss, widespread communications and electricity cuts were commonplace, and fresh water was in short supply. Although the southern island of St. Croix received less damage, flooding was an ongoing concern.
As Irma moved westward, it inflicted some damage on Puerto Rico. The island was far less fortunate, however, with Hurricane Maria. On Sept. 20, after tacking just to the south of the U.S. Virgin Islands—delivering more winds and flooding to that already battered territory—a Category 4 Maria moved on to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico, where it leveled homes all across the island and completely shut down its electrical infrastructure. Without power, effective communication between Puerto Rico and the mainland is almost impossible, and water treatment plants are inoperative, rendering drinking water scarce. It will be weeks, if not months, before systems get restored there.
Further complicating delivery of relief, the island is nearly 1,000 miles from Florida, and its powerless airports are trying hard to deal with damaged and debris-covered runways.
Despite the obstacles, we letter carriers still manage to find ways to help our own.
Puerto Rico has two branches: Ponce Branch 826 (430 active members) and San Juan Branch 869 (795 active members). In the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are Charlotte Amalie Branch 6412 (St. Thomas, 27 active members) and Christiansted Branch 6413 (St. Croix, 14 active members).
If your branch would like to send immediate financial help or supplies to your brother and sister NALC members in the Caribbean, call NALC Director of Safety and Health Manuel L. Peralta Jr. at NALC Headquarters in Washington, DC, at 202-662-2831. Peralta is coordinating direct branch-to-branch outreach efforts, with advisement from NALC Region 15 National Business Agent Larry Cirelli, whose jurisdiction includes the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Donated money will help branches buy critical supplies once they assess what’s needed. Highly sought material goods include water-filtration devices and systems, powdered food (such as milk and eggs) and crank-charge radios.
Beatriz Rosselló, first lady of Puerto Rico, is soliciting donations through the “United for Puerto Rico” initiative. Visit unidosporpuertorico.com to learn more.
For longer-term relief efforts, letter carriers can donate to the Postal Employees’ Relief Fund (PERF). Visit postalrelief.com to learn more.
Thank you for stepping up to help your brother and sister letter carriers in their desperate time of need.