Port Maritime Councils and their affiliates around the country continue to send supplies and aid to the citizens of Puerto Rico trying to recover from a series of earthquakes and aftershocks that have been afflicting the commonwealth this month.
Amancio Crespo of the Puerto Rico Ports Council is working with members from several local unions to distribute food, water, clothing, tents and other needed items to the southwestern corner of the island. He reports trade unionists are loading their own pickup trucks with supplies to take them to areas where damaged roads and infrastructure cannot handle larger trucks hauling containers. Among the first places where union-donated supplies arrived were 10 tent communities near main highways around Ponce, Puerto Rico.
“The only questions union members ask is ‘Where can I take help?’” Crespo stated. “Members hear supplies have arrived and they know we have to get them out.
“The people are extremely happy and humble to see us and were very grateful for the assistance and our visit,” Crespo added.
The MTD-affiliated Seafarers Union is accepting relief supplies at its halls in Philadelphia, Houston, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale. They are loaded into containers which, when filled, are transported on union-crewed U.S.-flag vessels that sail directly to Puerto Rico.
Another MTD affiliated union – the American Federation of Teachers – has had staff in Puerto Rico helping its members and accessing the situation. The Teachers reported a desparate need for large tents as many schools, houses and other facilities are badly damaged.
In response, the Port Councils based in Houston, New Orleans, Mobile and Fort Lauderdale have purchased tents which are on ships headed to San Juan.
Other MTD affiliates including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the International Association of Machinists are ramping up operations to send relief and aid.
Besides the tents, the West Gulf Ports Council just sent a sizable donation including camp stoves, tarps, sleeping bags, mosquito netting, flashlights, food, personal hygiene items and much more.