Two years after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico still needs help.
That was the message shared recently across Vermont by two of UCC Disaster Ministries’ colleagues, Lydia Rosaly and Angel Cepeda of the IEUPR (Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico), based in Caguas.
The UCC has contributed substantial funding to the joint UCC-IEUPR project of restoring Maria-damaged homes, especially the repair of roofs (105 in all as of August), and has helped recruit volunteers (420 in all as of August).
UCC Disaster Ministries will continue to support recovery efforts as long as financial resources allow, said Zach Wolgemuth, UCC Disaster Ministries Executive.
Rosaly and Cepeda just spent Sept. 21-30 in Vermont, thanking the many volunteers who have come from there to Puerto Rico and inviting monetary donations to UCC Disaster Ministries for Hurricane Maria recovery in Puerto Rico.
They were invited by Adrianne Carr, UCC Vermont Conference Disaster Coordinator, and Judy and Doug Moore, UCC Disaster Ministries Partners in Service.
They made stops at First Congregational Church UCC, Burlington; Mallets Bay Congregational Church; UCC Essex Junction; First Congregational Church, Norwich, and Thetford UCC. They also networked with Waterbury city officials and made a presentation at The Sharon Academy.
At present, the joint UCC-IEUPR rebuilding project is slated is fully funded through June 2020, and is recruiting volunteer work teams until then. Depending on volunteer signup (and on the weather), Rosaly said the expectation is restoration of 45 more homes by June 2020.
“We are hoping that we can raise more funds to extend the project until December 2020 with the help of UCC Disaster Ministries,” Rosaly said. “That would enable us to fix all 150 roofs that we have wait-listed right now, including the 45.
“If that doesn't happen we need to end by June. We would definitely need some additional funding to keep it running. We need an average of $39,000 to $40,000 per month to cover materials, payroll, and other expenses. And we need more volunteers to come and help us work.”
Materials alone to repair a concrete roof cost about $3,000, she said. The FEMA VALOR program supplied materials until it ended in August. “Since we no longer have that help, we need to buy all materials ourselves.”
“We felt immense love and solidarity from our brothers and sisters in VT and many of them will be coming back to work in 2020,” Rosaly said.
Rosaly is IEUPR’s Social Action and Response Coordinator, and Cepeda is IEUPR’s Accountant and Administrator.
Pictured: Rosaly and Cepeda, seated; flanked by Doug Moore, Nana Moore, Nina McCampbell, Judy Moore, and Mary Thompson - all donors to the UCC/IEUPR program in Puerto Rico.