On Oct. 10, the Solidarity Team of Sierra Club’s Chicago Group joined a national Hurricane Relief Day of Action by hosting a fundraiser for Puerto Rico at the Chicago Office.
All funds from this event will be donated to community organizations in Puerto Rico working to address relief and recovery needs in the wake of Hurricanes Maria + Irma and the subsequent government neglect.
The event was attended by two dozen individuals, including State Senator Omar Aquino and US Representative Luis Gutierrez. Sen. Aquino and Rep. Gutierrez spoke about the impact that the storm has had on communities, and of their relatives back in Puerto Rico. Huge portions of the island remain without power and running water, and the individuals impacted the most are the most vulnerable: infants, the elderly, and those in hospitals.
“Imagine an 80 year-old trying to live their life in a disaster zone with limited electricity and running water,” Rep Gutierrez told us. Rep. Gutierrez shared more about the impact that US policy and the financial industry has had on Puerto Rico. Predatory lending has left the island in paralyzing debt, and the island’s finances are now largely controlled by an appointed (unelected) board of seven individuals.
In addition, an old and outdated power grid has exacerbated the impact of the storms. Rep Gutierrez sees renewable energy (siting the reliable sun and wind on the island) and Puerto Rican Sovereignty as key to Puerto Rico’s future. The situation in Puerto Rico right now is a tragic example of economic, bureaucratic, and environmental racism in the United States. The solidarity team was grateful for the opportunity to make a small, positive impact in what is otherwise a devastating situation. Our fundraiser raised $1400! It’s also not too late to contribute. You can donate to community recovery efforts in Puerto Rico here.