LOUD: Start of 2018 Hurricane Season Brings Dismaying Memories of Maria to Puerto Rico

Group notes devastating impact on Latinos, the population LOUD
serves, and urges continued—and stepped up—response by government, NGOs
and others

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The 2018 hurricane season officially began in Puerto Rico on June 1,
only nine months after hurricane Maria devastated the entire island,
destroying its entire infrastructure with an estimate of more than $100
billion dollars
in damages and thousands of human
casualties. Although the official figures from the island’s government
on lives lost have been set at 64, a Harvard study just released found
that the number of deaths related to the hurricane has reached 4,645.

The response from government agencies in deploying assistance to
communities in need has been dismal, coupled with a total inefficiency
from insurance companies to process claims in a timely manner.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
was one of the immediate first responders to this catastrophe sending a
number of chartered cargo planes with generators, food, and drinking
water, which were distributed to not-for-profit agencies to help them
continue providing social and medical care. In addition, AHF created an
advocacy and fundraising campaign, #Power2PR,
where it raised funds for disaster relief and support of community
organizations. The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD),
an affinity group of AHF, just held its annual retreat in San Juan in
order to contribute to the economy and also to assess the state of
HIV/AIDS services in the island.

While in Puerto Rico—a territorial island of the United States whose
inhabitants are U.S. citizens—LOUD visited Casa Ismael, an AIDS hospice
organization located in Toa Baja. Casa Ismael currently houses and cares
for 14 residents in spite of the absence of FEMA assistance, unpaid
insurance claims, and the threat of non-insurance renewal. “At this rate
I doubt that any organization can sustain its services should another
storm hit Puerto Rico,” said Rosa E. Martínez Colón, Co-Chair of
LOUD.

The Harvard study shows that most of the unaccounted deaths were the
result of interrupted medical services following Hurricane Maria.
“Acknowledgement by the government of these deaths matters,” pointed out Patricia
Bermúdez
, Co-Chair of LOUD. “People need to mourn their loved ones.
Every life lost has a name to it and a family who remembers,” she
concluded.

“As FEMA and other government agencies and officials now prepare for the
2018 hurricane season in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic Coast, we
urge Congress not to forget the vast amount of work still to be done in
helping Puerto Rico continue its recovery from the devastation of
Hurricane Maria,” added Dr. William Arroyo, LOUD and AHF Board
member.

AHF and LOUD reaffirms their commitment to continue providing assistance
and support to the residents of the island, especially those impacted by
chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

www.somosloud.org

Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Patricia Bermúdez, MBA
Director
of Business and Program Development
+1.323-203-7381 mobile
patricia.bermudez@aidshealth.org