A Post Hurricane Maria Update from Team Rubicon’s San Juan, PR, City Coordinator

Jill L. Ferguson

Team Rubicon has been involved with Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in a variety of roles since the storm first made landfall in Puerto Rico in September of 2017. Currently, much time and attention has been paid to Team Rubicon’s work with local contractors to rebuild 500 roofs and five houses. But Team Rubicon is also doing other activities to help the still-struggling island. We caught up with Juan Carlos Ortiz-Giró, Team Rubicon’s San Juan City Coordinator to find out exactly what is on his and the other volunteers—or Greyshirts—schedule.

On September 29, Team Rubicon worked with The Mission Continues, The Wounded Warrior Project and Projecto P.E.C.E.S. in Humachao on a project called Hurricane Maria Remembrance. The work included tarping, installing doors and painting.

Ortiz-Giró said, “We were told the other organizations are counting on TR’s expertise to teach them to tarp.” Many homes in Puerto Rico are still without roofs or tarps over the open spaces where roofs once were.

In addition to this joint project, Team Rubicon has also been asked to join the Associacion de Manjadores de Emergencia y Professionales des Seguridad, an organization of first responders and emergency professionals that “do many instructional events in colleges and universities. It’s a good opportunity to get more people involved with Team Rubicon,” Ortiz-Giró said.

Team Rubicon Puerto Rico has also strengthened its relationship with the Department of Natural Resources (DRNA) since working with them on Team Rubicon operation Cocqui Comeback by training people in chainsaw operations and helping them clear parks. “We will be doing more work with them in the near future,” Ortiz-Giró said.

But he stresses that Team Rubicon needs more members in Puerto Rico, and more members to be active. Their local leadership team is comprised of four people, and Ortiz-Giró would like to see it grow. The U.S. Census reports more than 89,000 veterans lived in Puerto Rico in 2016.

One benefit of being involved with TR in PR is helping out, meeting Puerto Rico’s residents, and traveling all over this territory. “Without TR, I would never have gone into some of the neighborhoods I’ve visited during the last year,” Ortiz-Giró said. He referenced on particular area where Dominican immigrants live that was hard hit by Maria. “Going there reminded me that people are people,” he said. And people helping people is what Team Rubicon is all about.

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