27 September 2017

THE Coca-Cola Foundation is providing US$1 million to The Salvation Army to help provide immediate resources for food and shelter in areas impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria across the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. According to a report on coca-colacompany.com, 'In addition to financial contributions, The Coca-Cola Company and local bottling partners continue to support relief efforts by providing donations of food, beverages and building materials to communities impacted by these devastating natural disasters.'

Two of the locations that were devastated by Hurricane Irma and, less than two weeks later, Hurricane Maria were Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Both are US territories and – even though they are located in the middle of the Caribbean – their inhabitants are officially US citizens. Both territories saw their infrastructure obliterated in what has been one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in living memory.

Emergency response in Puerto Rico

The Salvation Army has a long-term presence on both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, which meant it was able to respond quickly once the hurricanes had passed, meeting essential needs and offering support.

On Puerto Rico The Salvation Army is delivering an average of 14,000 meals per day in 13 fixed sites. Food is also being provided to senior centres, to firefighters and to people who are unable to leave their homes. Since Hurricane Irma hit, almost 129,000 meals and snacks have been distributed.

The lack of fuel for vehicles is a major concern, along with worries about the potential failure of a dam near Quebradillas which could lead to the evacuation of a further 10,000 residents in addition to the 70,000 already displaced from their homes.

On St Thomas, one of the US Virgin Islands, The Salvation Army has partnered with the Dutch Reformed Church to serve more than 42,000 meals and snacks, along with delivering food, water and supply boxes to the poorest communities on the Island. It is serving nearly 3,500 families every day. On St John The Salvation Army is partnering with a local cafe to serve 1,000 families a day and on St Croix it is serving up to 1,100 families out of the Salvation Army corps (church). Clothes – including from a Salvation Army thrift store on the islands – have been distributed to hurricane survivors, though there is still a great need for medications and glasses for survivors.

With a permanent footprint in the affected communities, The Salvation Army's Disaster Services will continue to provide assistance throughout the urgent response and into the future, as the battered territories rebuild.

'The Salvation Army is committed to serving those who are desperate for resources,' says Michael Orfitelli (Territorial Coordinator of Emergency Disaster Services, USA Eastern Territory). 'We are grateful for the continued generosity of our donors and partners. Their gifts provide food, supplies, and emotional and spiritual care to those affected by the devastating weather events.'

Response efforts to this hurricane and flooding are expected to be costly and last for years. The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation online at http://sar.my/amappeal

Based on a report by Trish Raines and information from the USA Eastern Territory

Tags: Hurricanes 2017, Emergencies, Americas and Caribbean