Three and a half million Puerto Ricans are facing a devastating humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Flooding and mudslides have left millions without power, 40 percent without drinking water, and only 11 of the islands 69 hospitals in operation.
The United Church of Christ has a long history of walking with the people of Puerto Rico in the form of support for Puerto Rican self-determination through General Synod statements and ties to the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico. In addition UCC and Global Ministries advocates, in partnership with Jubilee USA, have been instrumental in advancing public policies to address the economic crisis, and specifically child poverty, in Puerto Rico, now further exacerbated by the hurricane.
Now is the time for Congress to act.
Although many lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called for emergency aid for Puerto Rico, similar to the Houston and Florida disaster responses, the timing and nature of such support is unclear. With the Columbus Day recess approaching, it is critical that policy makers act in the coming days. Any delays or failure to pass such critical humanitarian aid will have a devastating impact on the lives of many. Further, any aid packages must be offered in the form of grants, not loans, to avoid worsening the financial crisis on the island.
As we are reminded in Proverbs 31, we are called to speak up for the vulnerable. Act now to support hurricane relief for Puerto Rico.