New Jersey Group Offers Assistance for Dominican Flood Victims

(Photo via Reporte Hispano)

(Photo via Reporte Hispano)

A container full of clothes, food, mattresses and other products collected in the Garden State for the victims of the recent flood in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, shipped for that country last Monday and [was] expected to arrive by Dec. 18.

All this, to help the residents of the municipality of Puerto Plata, which suffered one of the worst floods in the area in modern history after two of its main rivers overflowed in late November. The disaster caused fatalities and the loss of several homes, and blocked main access roads.

Nature’s wrath showed no mercy for the population of Villa Isabela, the town that bore the brunt of the flood and suffered the greatest loss of lives, crops and materials.

Nearly 4,000 homes were damaged (200 were completely destroyed), 15 people died, and nearly $5 billion in damages to agriculture and infrastructure were recorded by government authorities.

Lucilo Santos, from the Jersey Dominican Foundation, the organization which collected goods in New Jersey, said that this is a rare event in the Dominican Republic. “Because of our geographical location we are exposed to hurricanes, but we never had flooding like this,” said Santos.

“It rained for nearly a month. It stopped for three days, and then started again. People panic every time the sky gets cloudy because it is a sign that it will start raining again. This is probably a result of disturbances caused by climate change.”

In light of the situation, the foundation took action.

Nélida Leguizamón, also from the foundation, said: “We began working on Dec. 4 and, thank God, the community has responded. They immediately started giving whatever they can and more. We are also grateful to the volunteers because, without their help, we would not have been able to receive, organize and pack the items.”

The first container they sent, said Santos, carried 350 rice sacks; 190 boxes with food products such as pasta, canned food and oil; 200 boxes of clothes; 18 wheelchairs and 50 pairs of crutches, among other items. “We have collected some money. I am not at the office right now, so I don’t have the exact figures, but it has been assigned to pay for the shipping of the containers,” said Santos.

He pointed out that most donations have been the result of the goodwill of Dominicans living in the Garden State, and that the Latin American community has also mobilized to offer their donations for their Dominican brothers and sisters.

“Companies have not participated yet, most probably because their boards need to make the decision in order for them to give a donation. We have sent them letters, so we hope to hear from them,” he said.

A second container was dispatched on Sunday, Dec. 18, containing mostly mattresses, an item sorely needed by the victims after their food needs have been met, added Santos.

The Jersey Dominican Foundation has been operating since 2014 organizing activities to provide school supplies for the poorest children. This is its first statewide event.

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