Below are excerpts from a digital journal being kept by Rick Asselta, a JGI volunteer and friend of Jane Goodall’s, chronicling the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Rick is credited as one of the earliest Roots & Shoots mentors having collaborated with Jane and others on the development of the program in the early 1990s. Rick and his wife, Nelly, established a robust Roots & Shoots network in Connecticut before they moved to Puerto Rico where they continue to share Jane’s message with local youth and Rick serves as the volunteer coordinator of Roots & Shoots Caribbean.
This is Part 3 of a series. Click here for the full series.
Over a month now.
Still over 80% of Island without electricity or safe water. Communication spotty but over 50% still out. We still have no power or communication in our area. To send this story we have to drive 25-30 miles away.
Volunteers and local people working like crazy to repair serious damage even rebuilding the 80 plus bridges out. Veteran group of volunteers actually repaired and reopened an old airport to fly in supplies. They asked why the National Guard in the states wasn’t mobilized when over 20,000 were sent to Haiti after hurricanes. They said their friends in the Guard want to help and are frustrated.This is US territory.
Everyone is exhausted.
We went to Maunabo’s fishing village yesterday. It’s destroyed. Many local fishermen can’t get out to sea due to damage to boats & passages. The beautiful beaches and palm trees look like a WW2 invasion area. Palms lying like matchsticks. Debris all over. The tourist industry is dead. Hotels and related industries closing. Thousands out of work.
People are determined to rebuild. All over the island, you see signs on walls, rocks, “Puerto Rico will rise!” Puerto Rican & American flags flying on homes and trucks bringing food, water, gas.
Many of our friends are sending water purification tablets to distribute.
Here’s how you can help:
For those of you who asked how you can help the people of Puerto Rico, here’s a project idea! Research types of tropical fruits and vegetables that will thrive in Puetro Rico and collect seed packets. Box them up and send them to to Rick and Nelly:
US Mail to
Rick and Nelly Asselta
P.O. Box 1332
Maunabo, PR 00707
With help from local Roots & Shoots students, we will distribute the seeds to the community.
If you want to donate money, we strongly recommend Habitat For Humanity—Puerto Rico programs. They have been building simple but effective housing for families who lost their homes in Puerto Rico. They are honest, reliable, and fiscally responsible.