For the past several weeks, Puerto Rico has seen more than two dozen high-magnitude earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
They’ve been destroying homes, causing buildings and schools to crumble and displacing thousands of residents.
The Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago has teamed up with people on the island to provide funding for resources, doctors and mental health aid.
On Sunday, the group helped provide funding for a community kitchen to feed about 1,200 people who have been displaced from their homes. The group has also been sending doctors, psychologists and artists into communities.
“When we got there, a doctor was setting up an improvised clinic because hers was affected,” said Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the group’s co-chair. “It was perfect timing because as we were helping get those materials up, an ambulance pulled up with people who needed medical attention.”
Pacione-Zayas emphasized the need for mental health resources given the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the potential for lingering or compounding trauma to residents of the island.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Wednesday a grant agreement that will make $8.2 billion available to Puerto Rico, The Associated Press reports. However, Pacione-Zayas said residents are concerned about the effectiveness and capacity of the government to implement aid.
“[Residents] are completely improvising with the situation and it’s a major testament to the spirit, resiliency and resourcefulness of people on the island,” Pacione-Zayas said. “People are not waiting for the federal government to come in and save them.”