Agencies organize efforts for relief in Puerto Rico

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The Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province in St. Louis is accepting financial contributions to help two Jesuit parish and school communities in Puerto Rico hit hard by Hurricane Maria.

"Our school and parish communities need help to recover," a post on the province website reported. "Colegio San Ignacio, our secondary school in San Juan, received significant damage. We anticipate our families will have significant needs."

The Jesuits, faculty and staff are safe but communication from the island remained limited.

Catholic Charities USA is the official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. Disaster response and recovery efforts include direct assistance, rebuilding and health care services. Visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org to learn more. Every dollar of funds raised goes to those affected. Catholic Charities USA has sent $1 million in emergency aid to Caritas Puerto Rico, the Catholic Charities agency on the island.

The Knights of Columbus has expanded its outreach in the wake of recent natural disasters that have plagued the southern U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. In the most recent actions, the Knights have donated $100,000 to Puerto Rico to aid victims of Hurricane Maria and an additional $100,000 to Mexico in the wake of the earthquake that struck Mexico City.

The American Red Cross is mobilizing additional volunteers and relief supplies, including ready-to-eat meals and water, to help people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Getting relief materials to the islands remains difficult, the agency reported, but the Red Cross is working with federal, corporate and community partners to get supplies to the region by both sea and air.

The Red Cross is also mobilizing additional relief supplies such as rice, beans, clean-up kits, home-repair kits, tarps, trash bags, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, work gloves and more.

On the U.S. Virgin Islands, Red Cross workers will continue to operate and support emergency shelters. In Puerto Rico, shelters are managed by the government, but the Red Cross is preparing to support sheltering efforts if needed. Those seeking loved ones are urged to continue to text and call them during non-peak hours (late night/early morning). Text service will be the first service to come back up. The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative who has a serious, pre-existing health or mental health condition, call (800) 733-2767. 

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