When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands, it was not just another storm. The category five event was one of most intense hurricanes of all time and came right on the heels of another deadly storm, Hurricane Irma.
Right after the storm, some of our clients with families and homes in Puerto Rico asked us for help in determining their loved ones’ wellbeing.
The challenge: Use our local sources to contact stranded family members throughout the island
In the aftermath of the storm, there was no way to get on or off the island, and communication was next to impossible. Once we provided our local partners with the names and addresses of the missing family members, they had the unenviable task of making their way to several cities scattered across the island.
The solution: Record messages of family members so their loved ones know they are safe
After traveling through a badly bruised Puerto Rico, our local sources were able to communicate the condition of our clients’ family members via satellite phones. Once some communication lines on the island came back online, our partners sent videos that contained personal messages to our clients from their loved ones. This was crucial as many of the family members lived in remote areas that were offline for considerably longer than the larger cities.
These messages were key because they let our clients assess what was needed for the families. Armed with this knowledge, they were able to create a plan for how to help once resources started flowing to the island. For example, we made sure that some families received power generators and other key supplies as soon as these could be sent.
The results: Fast contact helped make the best of a bad situation
Within 24 hours, we had already contacted many family members. Within a week, we had sent personal video messages from all the Puerto Rican families to their loved ones in the continental United States and around the world.
Our clients were relieved to know that their families were safe and had made it through the storm relatively unscathed.