NASA/NOAA GOES Project
Update, 11/6/2017: Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) is proud to announce that we have chosen Proyecto Matria as our first beneficiary in the Humanist Disaster Recovery Drive to aid the people of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. More than $25,000 was raised to aid Puerto Rico in hurricane recovery and Poyecto Matria will receive the majority of the funds. Details are still being worked out for the remainder of the funds and that announcement will be made at a later time.
Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, hit Puerto Rico on September 20 with 150 mph winds and rainfall that measured in feet in some areas. The island was already suffering from damage that occurred when Hurricane Irma clipped the island on September 7. Of the 1 million people Irma had left without power on the island, 60,000 were still without electricity when Maria hit two weeks later. As Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the Monday after Maria hit, “Make no mistake — this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million US citizens.” Sadly, the US government response to the crisis, which left the island without electricity or access to clean drinking water, was slow and desperately inadequate.
Proyecto Matria is local organization working to help the women of Puerto Rico become self-sufficient in order to overcome situations of violence and gender discrimination. Founded in 2004, they empower women with services as far reaching as housing services, which is vital in the wake of the destruction, but also with education, psychological support, and job assistance in the form of small business incubators and microcredit services.
These are important considerations for FBB. First, locally run organizations are always best suited to handle recovery, especially in the long-term. Second, during the recovery process, research suggests women will likely face unique and more severe needs. This issue has been researched in a number of countries around the world following all manners of disasters and generated similar results. Women face three areas of increased need that are interrelated; women's health, an increase in gender-based violence, and economic strain.
Proyecto Matria address many of these issues directly. In the wake of the hurricane destruction, they are setting up centers called "Casa Solidaria Matria" (which translates to Matria Solidary House/Home.) These centers will serve as models to be recreated in other communities and will serve multiple purposes including making hot meals available to families in need, serving as classroom space for children whose schools remain closed, space for business incubators using Proyecto Matria’s current model, psycho-social services to aid in the prevention of and to intervene in intra family violence cases, as well as help assisting with the evaluation of homes to coordinate reconstruction.
We are so grateful to our generous donors and are thrilled to partner with Proyecto Matria. We look forward to bringing you updates on their work in 2018. Together we are humanism at work.
Please note: Due to the extent and grave nature of the damage in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, we are researching beneficiary organizations to help those affected there. At this time all Hurricane 2017 Recovery donations are being directed to Puerto Rico. Donations will continue to Puerto Rico recovery efforts unless a new hurricane occurs which necessitates support elsewhere.
The 2017 hurricane season has already been one of the most severe in recorded history. Within less than a month, three record-breaking hurricanes formed in the Atlantic and affected at least five US states and devastated multiple Caribbean islands. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that the 2017 hurricane season will be the most active since 2010, and may last even longer than usual.
When Foundation Beyond Belief began collecting donations in late August for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, there was no way to know that two more monster hurricanes would ravage the Caribbean within less than a month. While we understand that many are still feeling the effects of Harvey, we also want to make sure that we provide assistance to communities impacted by Irma, Maria, and other major hurricanes that may hit.
Harvey came ashore in Corpus Christi as a category 4 storm and meandered slowly over Houston and surrounding areas in Texas, causing a 1,000 year flooding event that resulted in over 80 deaths.
Then Irma battered the Caribbean as a category 5 storm, and moved on to make landfall in Key West as a category 4, breaking multiple records along the way. Spending over 3 days as a category 5, Irma was “the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Leeward Islands, including Barbuda, Anguilla, and Saint Martin”.
Maria, as a category 5, caused massive destruction and at least nine deaths in the Caribbean. As of Wednesday, September 20, the entire island of Puerto Rico was without power. Maria strengthened from a category 1 to a category 5 in less than a single day, giving little warning to those in her early path.
FBB thanks the American Humanist Association for supporting this Humanist Disaster Recovery effort.