By now, we have all seen images and heard stories of the unprecedented devastation that Hurricane Maria has inflicted on Puerto Rico and its citizens. The death toll is rising, and the island is still reeling. With conditions still tough, many Puerto Ricans – as many as 100,000, by some estimates – are heading to Florida, creating one of the largest mass-evacuations in U.S. history. Some aim to return as soon as they can, but others are likely to stay. This has created a state of emergency for Florida.
Our own state of New Jersey has one of the highest populations of Puerto Ricans in the country. Here in the Camden Diocese, thousands have family members who have been impacted: some are still unable to reach their families; others have loved ones who are attempting to flee the island; many have welcomed those in need into their own homes. Many of these individuals and families have found themselves in a state of crisis, as they try to coordinate evacuation efforts for their loved ones on their own. This has led to overcrowded and unlivable housing situations, as well as emotional trauma.
But, please know that these families are not alone. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, is prepared to respond to this ongoing crisis. With infrastructure and operational practices already in place due to decades of experience in finding housing and meeting other needs for the most vulnerable, our agency is prepared to resettle those who are fleeing the devastation of Puerto Rico, while providing necessary assistance every step of the way. In addition to housing, Catholic Charities will be able to provide help with the following:
• Housing needs
• Food items
• Assistance with applying for public benefits
• Counseling for victims
If you or anyone you know needs assistance, please reach out to Catholic Charities at:
856-342-4073 or e-mail HurricaneMariaRelief@CamdenDiocese.org.
Please know that many of our Catholic Charities staff are either from Puerto Rico or have family members there. They, and other staff, will be able to respond to those who reach out with compassion and competence.