In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria ViequesLove worked side by side with community leaders, church groups, NGOs, schools and government officials. We continue to develop these partnerships and plan for an efficient response to a disaster. We have representation on infrastructure projects to harden the power and water systems and advocate for the community’s voice to be heard in decisions affecting future sustainability .
Disasters come in many forms. Some are inflicted by nature, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, or pandemics. Others are manmade and include everything from infrastructure failures and major accidents to terrorist attacks. In the extreme, preparation can mean the difference between life and death. In less severe events, the amount of damage and human suffering is greatly affected by the level of community-wide preparedness. ViequesLove works year-round for community-wide preparedness and to mitigate potential risks to the community by establishing programs focused on the root of the problem.
The island of Vieques is isolated from government support and vulnerable to both severe infrastructure damage and physical harm to the residents during any disaster. Resiliency demands preparation. Our efforts include advocacy for hardening island infrastructure, and organizational capacity building to strengthen the community’s self-reliance. The goal of our participation with, and connection to, other relief organizations is survivability; but in the long-term, it becomes sustainability.
Having less than .3% of the population of Puerto Rico, Vieques citizens suffer from a critical lack of representation in government. Targeted advocacy is an imperative to raising awareness leading to the allocation of funds, the construction of infrastructure, the development of the local economy, and the provision of necessary resources from both government and nongovernment sources. We continue to carry our message to all levels of government, from the municipality to DOE and Congress.
Streets With Proposed Names
Over 200 streets on Vieques do not have official names, hindering emergency response and disaster relief efforts. The project, Vieques Nombra Sus Calles, provides and coordinates a participatory mechanism utilizing Viequense historians and door-to-door canvassers to assist residents in selecting names that reflect the culture, history, and ecology of their location and the island.
While Vieques is small, and we like to think that everybody knows everybody, the reality is that many new areas have been developed through informal development in the last several decades, and we don't necessarily know specifically. where others live. Additionally, primary police service is provided by 911 operators and uniformed officers unfamiliar with our island, residents, and streets.
In discussions with residents during canvassing, stories are told of people dying because an ambulance could not find the victim's house, even on normal days. During relief efforts following Hurricane Maria, it was almost impossible for government and NGOs to deliver critical medical supplies and treatments to many. Needs went unknown and services did not reach those for whom they were intended as providers became lost.
Asset Mapping Project
Businesses Surveyed on Vieques
As history shows, Vieques cannot expect outside assistance during emergencies and must develop the capacity to fend for itself. In order to become resilient and effectively manage our island assets, we require a moderately robust system to allow government, emergency, and NGO personnel access to appropriate critical information.
The process requires us to:
Identify the needs
Locate and track critical resources, including equipment, supplies, & service providers
Acquire contact information from suppliers, responders, business and equipment owners
Continuously analyze and manage the sufficiency of the resources versus the needs of the island.
We are developing our online Asset Mapping system to survey and map critical emergency related resources of NGOs, churches, agencies, schools, businesses, and key individuals (on or off of the island) to better analyze, visualize, locate, and manage, assets on a geographical information system (GIS) to prepare for the next crisis.
Covid Pandemic Response
Vaccination Rate in Vieques
When Covid hit Puerto Rico, ViequesLove pivoted and created a contact tracing system. The broad-service medical, mental-health, and food-services based team composed of trusted community citizens has proven to be the model of effectiveness for all Puerto Rico. Through our efforts, the independent team was transferred to the municipal government and funded by the CARES act.
Support and collaboration provided to the National Guard, Dept. of Health, Fajardo Group Practice, Emergency Management, and the Covid Contact Tracing Team by ViequesLove was critical to the success of the vaccination events and led to the establishment of one of the most effective strategies in the US with almost 90% vaccinated.
The team defeated multiple outbreaks of Covid-19 preventing our limited healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. The continued government funding of the vital services provided by this team is doubtful, and we are working to assist in their transition into a sustainable, independent, 501c3 organization to serve the community more routinely in addition to episodic events.
Preparedness & Representation
Disasters come in many forms. Some are inflicted by nature, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, or pandemics. Others are manmade and include everything from infrastructure failures and major accidents to terrorist attacks. In the extreme, preparation can mean the difference between life and death. In less severe events, the amount of damage and human suffering is greatly affected by the level of community preparedness.
Because emergencies are not scheduled events, ViequesLove works year-round for community-wide preparedness and actively mitigates potential risks to the community by establishing programs focused on the root of the problem.
Collaboration among governmental agencies and NGOs is a very important part of preparedness and coordinated response.
To that end, ViequesLove became a member of the VOAD to represent Vieques. We also supported the effort to CERT certify as many residents as possible and to do the same with HAM radio training through the Vieques Radio Club. With representation in the COE, we have liaison with organizations that have specific knowledge of the needs of the community and access to resources to assist.
in the field.
Focused on Long Term Impact
We are focused on using the lessons learned in the aftermath of disasters to enable a more prepared, resilient and sustainable community. Daily we work towards these goals in and off the field. Our staff manages most of our programs, while our volunteers are eager to become involved in the efforts of our public commitment.
Prepartion is year round work
The Covid Pandemic was our 2020 + 2021 disaster, we are shifting resources and funding in 2022 to continue to work daily on intiating projects critical for resilience. Here is some of our team in the field.