To support ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Google is now matching donations up to $2 million to the Hispanic Federation and Mercy Corps. We asked ”Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to share his thoughts on why this is important. Read his story below, and donate now at g.co/supportPR.
Puerto Rico is 35 by 100 miles—an archipelago with a main island and two adjacent island-municipalities, Culebra and Vieques. But this tiny paradise has made an outsized impression on the world stage…artists…musicians…major league shortstops…and five Miss Universes. A territory of the United States since 1898, Puerto Ricans, by birth, are U.S. citizens. Right now, there are more Puerto Ricans in the continental United States (over 4.5 million) than on the island, 3.3 million. It’s not surprising that when the island is in trouble, the diaspora says, “presente.”
Puerto Rico is my second home. It’s where my parents were born. My mom lived there until she was a toddler, and my dad grew up there until he was about 18 and came to New York for graduate school. I had the incredible privilege and good fortune of having them send me to Puerto Rico every summer. My sister and I lived with my grandparents in Vega Alta, a humble town on the northern coast of the island. I used to work at my aunt’s school supply store on the frozen slushie machine.
And Puerto Rico is where Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20, 2017—the largest hurricane to hit the Caribbean in modern history. The devastation was widespread: most estimates put the damage costs at over $90 billion, the third most costly hurricane ever. In less than 48 hours, 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s agriculture was destroyed and 85 percent of above-ground telephone and internet cables were knocked out.
After Maria made landfall, there was a terrible silence from the island that lasted for days. We looked for any news or pictures on social media. We texted over and over again, hoping our loved ones could find a way to get a message through. For me, it was five days until we heard from any family members; we found a picture of our uncle helping in a supply line in Vega Alta.
Never before has a hurricane done this much damage to the island—to its already fragile power grid, to the way of life, to the land itself. I’ll never forget when we flew to Puerto Rico a month after Maria; seeing bare mountains for the first time was terrifying.
Nature is already making a comeback—those islands that were brown in the wake of Maria are green again. But due to the unpreparedness for this crisis and the halting attempts to restore power, Puerto Ricans in many parts of the island are still struggling. Power is still not fully restored. And this year’s hurricane season has just begun.
In the nine months since Hurricane Maria, people all over the world have opened their piggy banks and opened their hearts to help. Across the country, many have made their voices heard, demanding action from Congress. It has meant so much. Progress has been made, but there is still work to be done.
Now I ask that you join us once again in supporting economic recovery efforts on the island. Google will be matching donations up to $2 million to the Hispanic Federation and Mercy Corps—two organizations that have been helping people on the ground throughout the relief effort. You can donate now at g.co/supportPR.
I wake up every morning and I’m grateful that my family is from Puerto Rico. I feel an incredible connection to the island, to the people, to the culture, to our spirit, to our resilience. I know many others feel this connection, because you have chosen to help Puerto Rico and ease this crisis. Thank you for joining this effort, and thank you Google for your $2 million challenge grant.