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CARIBBEAN RELIEF

Islands throughout the Caribbean communities are beginning a long road to recovery from several major hurricanes that have ravaged the Atlantic. But Puerto Rico in particular is facing what local officials have described as a full-blown humanitarian crisis, with devastation they call “apocalyptic.”

 

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster the island has seen in nearly a century. Sixteen people have died as a result of the storm, according to the Associated Press, a number local officials expect to rise.

 

The island has virtually no running water or electricity; around 80 percent of the island’s crops have been destroyed. Scores of Puerto Ricans are gathering around what’s left of the island’s cell towers, desperate for contact with loved ones.

Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Irma before it, walloped several other islands in the Caribbean. From Barbuda, which had to be evacuated and remains uninhabitable, to Dutch St. Martin, where 90 percent of the buildings were damaged, this hurricane season has been brutal. (Dominica, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Cuba were also seriously banged up in the storm.)

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October 2nd, 2017 - 

Those who were displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico can now apply for food stamps in Florida, officials announced.

Individuals receiving benefits under Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), along with anyone who was displaced by the storm, can apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in Florida, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. 

 

Benefits would be active for at least two months. The policy will facilitate access to food for households in immediate need, since NAP benefits cannot be used outside Puerto Rico.

 

The USDA is asking that SNAP agencies expedite procedures in serious cases, enabling households to receive an eligibility decision within 7 days rather than the the usual 30 days, if they have very little income or resources.

Visit the Florida Department of Children and Families’ website and fill out an online application.

Visit the USDA’s Food Assistance for Disaster Relief page for additional resources.