President Clinton visits Foundation relief efforts in Puerto Rico
Visits across Northeast Puerto Rico include a health center, a community shelter, a farmers’ marketplace, and a community health clinic; visit included stops with Governor Rosselló, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, and local mayors
On Monday, November 20th, President Clinton traveled to Puerto Rico to visit communities that were impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. On the ground in Puerto Rico, President Clinton saw sites that are receiving assistance through the work of the Clinton Foundation and partners.
Since the devastating hurricanes hit two months ago, President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have worked to assist Puerto Rico’s recovery. The Foundation helped launch Solar Saves Lives, an effort with solar companies and other humanitarian organizations to coordinate donations of solar equipment that has already collected commitments for over $5 million in products.
Last month the Foundation also participated in an airlift of medical supplies to Puerto Rico, helping Direct Relief ship and distribute over 75 tons of supplies to specific health facilities.
President Clinton has also joined with the four other living former presidents to issue the One America Appeal, which is asking fellow citizens and friends around the world to support recovery needs from this hurricane season. These funds have been disbursed to aid in the recovery of Puerto Rico.
President Clinton began the day with Governor Ricardo Rosselló at Escuela William Rivera Betancourt, a school in Canóvanas which was turned into an emergency shelter for families whose homes were destroyed or deemed unlivable after Hurricane Maria. Canóvanas was particularly devastated by both Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
President Clinton and Governor Rosselló were joined by Mayor Lornna Soto of Canóvanas. Many houses in Canóvanas were totally destroyed, and the community continues to struggle for access to safe water and electricity.
The shelter is equipped with a range of medical supplies and personal products, and doctors and nurses working at the shelter to distribute these much-needed products in the local community. President Clinton personally delivered 12 containers of products that the Foundation and Direct Relief brought on the trip for the shelter, including diapers, soap, and over-the-counter medication.
From there, President Clinton traveled north to the coast to the town of Loíza. There, he visited the Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza — a primary care clinic that has received medical supplies from the Direct Relief airlift.
President Clinton met with the clinic’s doctors and saw the medical supplies that were provided by the airlift. The supplies have helped the doctors provide a wide range of care, including medical backpacks for general care, treatment for newborn babies and mothers, and electrolyte replacements for children with diarrhea. President Clinton and Direct Relief also personally delivered five containers of medical supplies that have been requested by the clinic.
At the clinic with President Clinton, Direct Relief officials, including CEO Thomas Tighe and Andrew Maccalla, announced that over $25 million in medical supplies will be shipped to Puerto Rico in the coming weeks.
President Clinton then traveled west to San Juan, where he joined San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz at the Plaza del Mercado de Rio Piedras market.
The market will be solarized following an installation of solar panels collected by the Clinton Foundation and The Solar Foundation, and donated by partners like Sunrun through the Solar Saves Lives effort.
At the market, President Clinton viewed the solar panels being used in the installation, as well as smaller, individual handheld solar products engineered for extreme weather.
SoLight founder Alice Chun demonstrated how these handheld products — called Solar Puffs — are used, and how they are particularly useful in rural areas where the power infrastructure is still offline. Chun then announced a commitment of over 14,000 Solar Puffs that are being deployed on the ground in Puerto Rico.
From here, President Clinton visited the HealthproMed Foundation Health Center in the Santurce district of San Juan, which has received over $1 million worth of supplies from Direct Relief since Hurricane Maria hit.
With more than 90,000 residents, Santurce is one of the most densely populated areas in San Juan and in the whole of Puerto Rico. The area was badly impacted by Hurricane Maria, with many homes being flooded or sustaining structural damage.
President Clinton toured the facility, and spoke to doctors who have been at the front lines of the hurricane response efforts. The health center provides comprehensive primary care services to the local community, as well as community outreach and enrollment programs, and operates a walk-in clinic.
At the health center, President Clinton saw firsthand some of the supplies that were provided by the airlift. These include a wide array of essential supplies such as antibiotics; painkillers; saline solution; insulin and glucose meters for diabetic patients; wound care supplies; and protective equipment such as masks for health workers.
Finally, to cap off the day, President Clinton met with Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, as well as a bipartisan group of Puerto Rican mayors that included the mayors of San Juan, Ponce, Arecibo, Canóvanas, Fajardo, Orocovis, Cayey, Utuado, Morovis, and Comería.
President Clinton and the mayors discussed the impact of the hurricanes in their constituencies, their plans for building back better, and the role that the Clinton Foundation can play in helping make those plans a reality.
President Clinton acknowledged that the recovery efforts will take time, and encouraged partners and civic leaders to remain committed to both humanitarian relief efforts and the long term rebuilding that will be necessary.
This meeting, along with Direct Relief’s announcement of $25 million in additional medical supplies and the visits throughout the day, helped set the stage for President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to continue to help Puerto Rico in the weeks and months ahead.