December 14, 2017

UMCOR Responds to Need in Puerto Rico

UMCOR On the Ground in Puerto Rico 
Hurricane Maria, Day 58

Ted Warnock, missionary on assignment to UMCOR, Sager Brown, shared the following report with Judy and Doug Lewis on November 17,upon returning from Puerto Rico. He was with Bishop Ortiz of Methodist Church Puerto Rico (MCPR), along with UMCOR staff persons and a number of significant players from PR, such as the volunteer manager and construction manager. 

Some power stations have been installed on the south side of the island, but all power from them is shipped to the northwest side for businesses, especially tourism.

$794,500 worth of goods has already been sent by UMCOR.

Deliveries have included D batteries, water filters, and solar chargers for satellite and cell phones.
12 COWs or self-standing solar towers are being installed. 
UMCOR has been providing food bags to everyone, no distinction or ID required.
Roof tarps are being passed out, but mainly held down with concrete blocks at this time.
Lucy lights are being distributed since there is no electricity on the south side (esp. SE).
5 containers went out from Sager Brown this week with buckets and hygiene kits.
UMCOR West is sending layette (cloth diapers) and school kits.

Current Challenges:

  • Debris—landfills are already full; there is a tremendous amount of tree damage and blockage of roads by fallen trees and flying debris.
  • Telephone wires are hanging precariously or pulled aside in piles with inadequate information about how to deal with the wires.
  • Widespread loss of roofs not made of concrete resulting in secondary water (rain) damage. There is a massive need for immediate tarping. 
  • Houses with concrete roofs fared much better, but they are more expensive.
  • Getting to people in distress in remote areas with food and supplies requires hiking up to 3000’ and hand-carrying tarps and food, etc.

Call for Teams to Puerto Rico:

  • Puerto Ricans currently in Florida have been ERT trained and 2 teams will go out in December as front runners. 
  • Registration should open online through MCPR the 2nd week of January.
  • Requirements for team members:
  • Willingness to sleep in large room on beds with all team members, no distinction by sex
    MUST BE currently ERT badged
  • Must speak Spanish (Later teams will be accepted with just some Spanish speakers, but at first they would like ALL to speak fluent Spanish)
  • Current on Immunizations, including Hep A and B, tetanus, preferably flu shot (Zika is active in PR so any woman of child bearing age should consider not deploying)
  • 100% Deet should be used (Dengue fever and Malaria are real possibilities)
  • Insurance for travel as well as medical and liability
  • Boots should be steel-toed and waterproofed
  • Physically capable of hiking up to 3000’ elevation carrying supplies and then working, often on hillsides
  • There are creepy crawlers, so effective insecticide to spray clothes will be needed
    Deployments for 6 working days


  • Many ERTeams will be needed for debris removal and roof tarping. 
  • So far 40% of the children have not been able to start school this year. UMCOR hopes to field tutoring teams who will also deliver school kits. Details on this team activity will be worked out as stage 2 after initial ERT work. 
  • Recovery teams will be needed after the Early Response work is done.

Many $$ will be needed for supplies to aid recovery. Advance Directive #901670

Please contact Judy Lewis if you plan to field a team or have individuals who meet the current requirements. If you need the ERT training in Spanish and are willing to host a training session, also contact your conference coordinator who will give you the details about hosting. At the current time, we have had no requests for Spanish ERT training, but are open to providing that. We have English-speaking class instructors who could work with a Spanish translator as well.

Judy Lewis, Cal-Pac Disaster Response Coordinator 909-731-8248