| by Staff
CAMDEN CITY, NJ--Hurricane Maria’s devastation hit particularly close to home in Camden. More than a third of the city’s population is of Puerto Rican descent, and most have family or friends who were on the island when the hurricane hit- the worst storm to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years. There are an estimated 48 lives lost, with many who are injured and suffering without food, water or electricity. The need for supplies is dire, and the people of Camden are stepping up to help with relief efforts in any way they can.
There was a massive drive to collect donations and supplies throughout the city and across the state. Camden’s own, State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez launched statewide relief efforts by partnering with the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey to create the Boricuas from New Jersey para Puerto Rico Fund with the South Jersey Credit Union. The collection drive culminated with an event hosted by the Camden County Board of Freeholders and the City of Camden in Von Nieda Park on Sunday, October 8th.
The day featured donation drop-offs, music, fundraising auctions and a renewed commitment to be there for the people in the long-term for those in need. City Council President Frank Moran organized the day’s collection and festivities. Sharing the sentiments of so many Camden residents, he said, “It’s been heart-wrenching to watch the news and coverage, we had to step up and do something.” Moran was unable to reach close relatives for some time and hopes that the relief efforts will help residents of Puerto Rico get back on their feet as soon as possible. Moran set a goal to raise $100,000 and reports that they exceeded that goal within hours of the kick-off of the event thanks to the generosity of residents, community groups, and Camden’s business community.
In addition to the fundraising drive, a massive supply collection took place with the help of local volunteers, Cooper University Health System and Foundation, the Norcross Foundation and the Michaels Organization. The Ravitz Family Market Price Rite Grocery in Camden donated additional food and water resulting in a cumulative four tons of supplies collected. The supplies were loaded onto two jet planes and landed at Rafael Hernández Airport in Puerto Rico on October 11th.
There is no quick fix to the loss and devastation. Estimates indicate that the rebuilding/recovery efforts will take months to restore the island to any semblance of functionality. We cannot forget the grief and disruption that will shape everyday life on the island in the weeks and months to come. While we remember those who will continue to need our support, we can be proud of the people of Camden and those across the state who showed up when it counted- with resources, solidarity, generosity, and love.
To donate supplies or funds to help the effort go to http://www.camdencounty.com/event/hurricane-maria-relief-effort/