As Team Rubicon prepares to pilot rebuilding in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, we are extending our pilot to Puerto Rico to address the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. The destruction across Puerto Rico is difficult to fathom. Puerto Ricans – American citizens – have experienced something profound. This recent CNN article begins to paint the picture of what life is like for many Puerto Ricans today. Team Rubicon was founded on a bias to act, and we won’t wait another minute to support recovery in Puerto Rico.
Team Rubicon’s Approach
Team Rubicon is rebuilding in Puerto Rico with an approach to match the unique context of a post-Maria Puerto Rico. We hired local contractors to repair and replace roofs in some of the lowest income communities. In the last week, we began repairing and replacing the roofs of multiple homes and plan to do the same for 53 families by mid-March. We are using a fortified approach to rebuilding roofs that will keep families out of the elements, using hurricane hangers, straps, and/or cabling (each home is individually assessed to ensure the most appropriate mitigation measure is used) to ensure homes are better prepared against future storms.
By hiring local construction contractors, recovery is expedited for families, decreasing the amount of continual damage that occurs every time rainstorms pass through. Secondly, hiring local construction contractors through the generosity of our donors will not only address families’ recovery, but this approach will also put cash into Puerto Rico’s economy. Investing in the local economy is one of the points of consensus that emerged from the World Humanitarian Summit as a necessary shift in the broader humanitarian space.
Collaboration in the Field
To enable this broader approach, we partnered with The Disaster Services Corporation – Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA (SVdP). SVdP has local conferences that have been supporting families well before and after the storm. SVdP is providing Team Rubicon referrals for families with children in the home, are senior citizens, disabled, or have an access and functional need.
One of the most critical elements of our approach to rebuilding in Puerto Rico is to ensure we are well coordinated with the broader recovery effort with FEMA and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD). We will continue to work collaboratively to ensure the families’ roofs we repair or replace are connected with these organizations to address other aspects of their recovery.
Lastly, one of the most critical comparative advantages Team Rubicon has is Greyshirts. These are the veterans and kickass civilians who enable Team Rubicon to mobilize and support families affected by disasters. To kick-start our approach, Navy veteran and Clay Hunt Fellow Michael Lloyd has been leading the charge. We are committed to engaging veterans throughout this effort, whether through preferential hiring within the contractors we’re engaging or through direct engagement in the coming months of our rebuilding efforts.
We’ll be back with an update to share what our next steps are beyond this month.