Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 storm on September 20, 2017, leaving the entire island without power. Maria also devastated other Caribbean islands including the Turks and Caicos Islands, Dominica, and St. Croix.
In both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Red Cross volunteers are working in close collaboration with local officials and community partners to coordinate response efforts. In Puerto Rico, local officials are opening evacuation shelters, and the Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers and supplies. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Red Cross is preparing for Hurricane Maria and expanding emergency sheltering efforts on St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. Additional regional and global emergency teams have been placed on alert for rapid deployment once it is safe.
Below in this paper is information regarding the following:
CONTACTING LOVED ONES
RESOURCES & INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUALS STILL IN PUERTO RICO
For FEMA water and food distribution sites: Visit http://www.fema.gov/hurricane-maria and click on ‘Point of Distribution Locations’ for a list of sites.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) activated its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) which pays for prescription medications for people without health insurance who are affected by disasters. At no cost to uninsured patients, those needing certain drugs during an emergency can obtain a 30-day supply at any of the EPAP participating pharmacies. A list of the eligible drugs is available at http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/epap/Pages/formulary.aspx. Patients can renew their prescriptions every 30 days while the EPAP is active. Uninsured Puerto Rico residents affected by Hurricane Maria can call Express Scripts, 855-793-7470, to learn if their medication or specific durable medical equipment is covered by EPAP and to find a participating pharmacy.
The United States Department of Agriculture announced new temporary guidelines for displaced Puerto Rico residents receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. To view the USDA press release, click on this link: https://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2017/012717
For information on all incoming mail available to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands go to http://about.usps.com/news/service-alerts/welcome.htm
For general information on what organizations and businesses are open: http://www.status.pr
Official Puerto Rico websites and phone numbers are intermittently working. The social media sites below are alternative sources of updated information.
HELP FOR DISASTER VICTIMS ARRIVING IN CONNECTICUT
Resource Guides for individuals arriving in Connecticut from Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands in English and Spanish, along with other resources, including the “Standby Guardian Forms for Hurricane Evacuees” are available on the 2-1-1 website at: http://uwc.211ct.org/maria/
Reception Centers have been opened at the following sites in Connecticut for in-person assistance with services, for residents of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands, who have been displaced: Hurricane Maria Disaster Service Centers
The following links are for basic needs services in Connecticut that may be helpful to those residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have relocated to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.
NOTE: Per FEMA: Applicants are expected to return to their home and will not be eligible for rental assistance if the inspection records it as not needing habitability repairs, and the utilities are on.
**In the case of renters, the inspection findings will not always indicate whether the unit is still available to return to, as their lease may have been terminated since the disaster, and/or the landlord decided to no longer rent the unit out. In these cases where renters cannot return to the home for a specific reason, they should reach out to the landlord of their property to obtain a statement stating as such. In some cases, when the landlord’s contact info is in the applicant’s file, FEMA has made calls directly to the landlord to obtain this verification over the phone.
Housing and Shelter: Dial 2-1-1 for access to shelter and housing resources 24/7
NOTE: Medicare beneficiaries affected by the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are eligible for a special enrollment period (SEP) through March 31, 2018. This SEP provides affected individuals with an additional one-time opportunity to add, drop or change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans. For more details visit: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/Downloads/Extension-SE-Period-PR-VI-CA-Wildfire.pdf
Clothing and Household Goods
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for Individuals Affected by Hurricane Maria
Unemployment Insurance for Residents of Puerto Rico
English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes
Assistive Technology Mobility Aids/Equipment
Connecticut’s 2-1-1 child care resource and referral agency can provide information on child care programs and resources at: http://www.211childcare.org/ or by calling, 800-505-1000 (M-F: 8am-5pm)
Temporary Guardian Options
Standby Guardian Forms – If someone is caring for a child temporarily for the parent and/or guardian – Link to forms here in English and Spanish, and other general information: http://uwc.211ct.org/maria/
Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (CT DDS) Help Lines
Each of the DDS Regions has established a Help Line to assist families who do not have a case manager to help access services. Help Line staff will assist with applying for DDS Family Support Services or refer individuals to the appropriate community resources and services.
**North Region – Help Line 1-877-437-4577, email: email@example.com
**South Region – Help Line 1-877-437-4567, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
**West Region – Help Line 1-877-491-2720, email: email@example.com
College Enrollment at Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) and UConn for Affected Hurricane Maria, Irma or Harvey Students
The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) will allow students from the University of Puerto Rico and the University of the Virgin Islands, as well as recent high school graduates, impacted by Hurricane Maria to continue their studies at CSCU for in-state tuition. Beginning in either the Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 semester, displaced students can attend one of the four CSCU Universities or twelve community colleges. All applications should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than December 1, 2017, application fees can be waived. Interested applicants must complete the National Common Application (4 year universities) or the Community College Application (2 year colleges) or submit an application in person. They should choose the ‘Fee Waiver’ option before submission. High school and/or college transcript(s) should also be submitted, if available. For more information, visit http://www.ct.edu/.
• Students impacted by Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey who are interested in enrolling at UConn should contact UConn Admissions at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-486-3137.
• UConn Admissions is prepared to work with students to waive application fees, move deadlines and work with students on completing their applications.
• UConn accepts the Puerto Rico College Board Results (PEAU) in lieu of the SAT of ACT for applicants from Puerto Rico.
• UConn is also committed to working with students whose ability to finance their college education has been impacted by this disaster. Students should follow the standard financial aid processes, beginning with submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). UConn recognizes that information provided on the 2017-2018 FAFSA may not reflect current circumstances. A financial aid appeals process is available and will consider current circumstances. For additional questions on UConn Financial Aid, call: 860-486-2819.
**Connecticut Independent Colleges Supporting Evacuees from Puerto Rico with tuition assistance include:
The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), http://www.cwealf.org/, can help with free legal information on family law issues, domestic violence, employment discrimination, or civil rights issues. Bilingual assistance is also available along with referrals to attorneys and community agencies for additional services. Call 1-800-479-2949 or complete this online form for information or to schedule an in-person meeting for legal advocacy services.
Health Entry Requirements for Dogs and Cats Accompanying their Owners from Puerto Rico
The following are the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s revised health related requirements to better accommodate dogs and cats accompanying their owners when arriving in Connecticut from Puerto Rico. For additional questions on vaccination policies, call Animal Control Division, CT Department of Agriculture -Phone: (860) 713-2506
(1) Health Certificates – The requirement that dogs and cats each be accompanied by a health certificate (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection) issued by a veterinarian in Puerto Rico is temporarily suspended until further notice.
(2) Current Rabies Vaccination – The requirement that dogs and cats have proof of rabies vaccination is temporarily suspended until further notice. However, the following is required for animals not having proof of rabies vaccination upon arrival:
(a.) vaccinated for rabies by a Connecticut veterinarian within two weeks of the date of entry and
(b.) remain under home confinement from the date of entry through a period of 30 days from the rabies vaccination date.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Individuals, regardless of where they reside, can help those affected by Hurricane Maria. Listed below are resources to connect with in order to make a financial donation, donate blood, or volunteer.
Make a Donation
Important information about charitable giving: The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recently released tips for avoiding phishing scams from individuals attempting to pose as legitimate charity organizations. Click here for more information. The Better Business Bureau of Central New England offers tips to donors on avoiding scammers and donating money to legitimate disaster relief organizations. Click here for more information.
Consumers may file a complaint regarding a charity at email@example.com, and charities with registration questions may email the department at firstname.lastname@example.org. or call (860) 713-6100 and Toll-Free in CT at (800) 842-2649.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & RESOURCES
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH): The Disaster Distress Helpline 800-985-5990 provides immediate crisis counseling and help to individuals nationwide who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of a natural or man-made disaster, or incidents of mass violence. The Helpline is available 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The Helpline connects callers to professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. Individuals can call or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746.
Information and a financial toolkit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to assist individuals after a hurricane can be accessed here: CFPB Financial Toolkit
SOURCES: American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), USA.gov, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, 2-1-1 Connecticut database
PREPARED BY: 211/kq
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: January2018