Include a byline with the reporter’s name and Direct Relief in the following format: "Author Name, Direct Relief." If attribution in that format is not possible, include the following language at the top of the story: "This story was originally published by Direct Relief."
If publishing online, please link to the original URL of the story.
Maintain any tagline at the bottom of the story.
With Direct Relief's permission, news publications can make changes such as localizing the content for a particular area, using a different headline, or shortening story text. To confirm edits are acceptable, please check with Direct Relief by clicking this link.
If new content is added to the original story — for example, a comment from a local official — a note with language to the effect of the following must be included: "Additional reporting by [reporter and organization]."
If republished stories are shared on social media, Direct Relief appreciates being tagged in the posts:
Unless stated otherwise, images shot by Direct Relief may be republished for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution, given the republisher complies with the requirements identified below.
Maintain correct caption information.
Credit the photographer and Direct Relief in the caption. For example: "First and Last Name / Direct Relief."
Do not digitally alter images.
Direct Relief often contracts with freelance photographers who usually, but not always, allow their work to be published by Direct Relief’s media partners. Contact Direct Relief for permission to use images in which Direct Relief is not credited in the caption by clicking here.
Do not state or imply that donations to any third-party organization support Direct Relief's work.
Republishers may not sell Direct Relief's content.
Direct Relief's work is prohibited from populating web pages designed to improve rankings on search engines or solely to gain revenue from network-based advertisements.
Advance permission is required to translate Direct Relief's stories into a language different from the original language of publication. To inquire, contact us here.
If Direct Relief requests a change to or removal of republished Direct Relief content from a site or on-air, the republisher must comply.
For any additional questions about republishing Direct Relief content, please email the team here.
Here are 10 people, representative of thousands more across Puerto Rico, who have been working to recover and rebuild their communities since Hurricane Maria.
Pedro Luis Ortiz
Arroyo, Puerto Rico
Since building the home in 1997, Pedro Ortiz had watched as multiple hurricanes churned through his hometown of Arroyo. But Hurricane Maria was a different kind of storm altogether.
When winds of more than 155 miles per hour ripped through the mountainous community, the home had its second story ripped off, where Ortiz, his wife and two daughters lived. They survived the storm, but their home was devastated.
Puerto Rico Housing officials estimate that more than 300,000 homes across the island were lashed by significant damage. Ortiz was one of many working to dismantle what was left of his family’s home, and start to rebuild their future.
After the hurricane struck, washed out roads and downed power lines forced Yesenia Ortiz to walk an hour and half each way to work. That’s where she manages medical records at the community’s health center, Centro Salud Familiar, in her hometown of Arroyo, Puerto Rico. As Ortiz’s parents focus on rebuilding their damaged home in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Yesenia’s income is the family’s primary financial support.
Health centers play a key role in disasters, and many times, staff there become first responders. Because many also live locally to where they work, they become victims themselves. Cash grants from Direct Relief’s hurricane community health fund went to clinics, allowing them to use the money for costs not otherwise covered by federal funds or insurance while staff work to bring the clinics back to full strength. Centro Salud Familiar Clinic, where Ortiz works, received a grant of $25,000 to use towards these costs.
To say that Miguel Morales is a hands-on leader in his community would be an understatement.
Shortly after Hurricane Maria swept through the mountain community of Utuado in Central Puerto Rico, Morales and other community leaders, Iván Robles and William Reyes, rolled up their sleeves. They walked up to six miles a day, clearing debris with machetes and untangling power lines.
Access to water and power remained a challenge, post-Hurricane, in Utuado. A solar laundry, funded by Direct Relief and AbbVie, was installed in Utuado, and Morales and others were instrumental, even installing the pipeline for the washing machines themselves.
When Radiologist Dr. Yania López Álvarez moved back to Puerto Rico, she gave up job offers that would have doubled her current salary.
“Job offers in the U.S. are very attractive, but I knew that I wanted to come back,” said Dr. López, who works as Director of the Imaging Center of the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico and assistant professor at the UPR School of Medicine.
At the time she moved back to the island, the public health system of Puerto Rico didn’t have a program for her to apply her expertise in breast imaging, which she had practiced at the Mayo Clinic.
After Maria swept through, many of Puerto Rico’s doctors and medical professionals left the island to find work elsewhere. Dr. Lopez was determined to stay, and worked to establish Puerto Rico’s first breast imaging center. A donation from Direct Relief funded the purchase of contrast-enhanced digital mammography technology to the center.
“Having the best technology in the best place makes the sacrifices worth it because you know that you’re making difference,” said Dr. López.
In the weeks after Maria, Noel Torres would wake up each morning, well before sunrise, in a home still without electricity, to install solar in communities across the island that also lacked power.
About ten weeks later, Torres regained power in his home, but continued working long days to ensure others could experience the same thing. Torres worked to outfit several health centers with the solar energy systems they’d need to weather the next emergency, and stay operational for patients.
For Torres, switching on the lights in a home or business for the first time in weeks or months is a rewarding experience. He recalled the case of a 60-year-old resident of Aguas Buenas and his wife and two daughters, all of whom had lived months without power until Torres was able to work on their home.
“He saw the electric bulbs on and began crying,” Torres said. “I donated extra time to the installation because I wanted to help as much as I could.”
Three weeks after Maria, Alex Rodriguez went to deliver water in Orocovis, a community in central Puerto Rico that was badly impacted by the storm.
Going from house to house, Rodriguez saw that residents had a supply of single-use bottles, but no water supply to provide water for daily life. He met a 93-year-old woman, who reminded him of his own grandmother. “I thought, I have to help,” he said. “They don’t need a bottle of water, they just need water.”
Rodriguez and group, Por Los Nuestros, set to work to ensure that those communities got access to the water they needed.
The island of Vieques sits eight miles off of the coast of Puerto Rico, and is isolated even in normal times. After Hurricane Maria hit, the island became even more cut off, and its residents experienced protracted shortages of water, food and gasoline.
Dr. Ivette Perez was the only doctor working at the Centro de Salud Comunitario clinic for nearly a month after the storm made landfall.
“There was a moment where there were no medicines,” Dr. Perez recalled. “What matters in that moment is not the money, but who’s by your side. The community is what’s important.”
Salud Integral de Montana in Naranjito, located 20 miles southwest of San Juan, serves the mountainous communities on the northern slopes of Cordillera Central.
During Hurricane Maria’s high winds, the health center kept its doors open for anyone who needed help, said Gloria del C. Amador Fernández, Salud Integral de la Montana Health Center’s Executive Director.
“We were the only ones providing care on the mountain,” she said.
Morovis Community Health Center never closed its doors to patients, even after the center’s glass doors were destroyed by 150 mile-per-hour winds. Pharmacist Nydia Torres and other staff were able to barricade the doors with plywood and the clinic kept operating.
The clinic was one of the only facilities in the mountainous region to continuously provide medical care throughout the storm.
Dr. Carla Rossotti
Primary care doctor
Coamo, Puerto Rico
With many people displaced after Hurricane Maria, shelters quickly popped up in places like schools or churches. Many also needed medical care, and doctors across the island worked to create pop-up clinics where medical facilities weren’t an option.
One of those doctors was Dr. Carla Rossotti. In the weeks after Maria, she and her team arrived at an elementary school housing dozens of people who’d been displaced from their homes. They quickly set up a clinic in the school’s library with medicines from Direct Relief, and saw patients for everything from high blood pressure to mental health needs.