Eastern’s Hurricane Effort

hurrican_irma_footage_in hurricaneMore than a month has passed since Maria, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150-mile mph winds, hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, ripping the island to pieces.

hurricane puerto rico mapToday, the island of nearly three and a half million American citizens still has very little medicine, fresh water and food. Farms are wiped out and 73 percent of the island (Oct. 27) is still without power. The death toll could reach into the hundreds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Eastern’s campus-wide campaign to support hurricane relief efforts began shortly after Hurricane Maria blitzed the island and continues today. An ad hoc committee is coordinating Eastern’s response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the earthquakes in Mexico. The committee’s immediate effort is focusing on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With a lack of electrical power, drinking water, medicine, and other life-sustaining services, the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are facing life-and-death situations.  Students, faculty, staff and alumni are engaged in numerous activities to provide immediate support to the citizens of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico Texas and Florida.

hurrican irma in st martin“I have family in Puerto Rico and friends throughout the Caribbean who have been cut off from basic services — their very lives are being threatened,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “The islands are devastated. People are drinking toxic water. They need relief and they need it now. I am pleased that Eastern, in collaboration with so many area residents, is responding with compassion to help the millions of people hit by this catastrophic natural disaster.”

On Sept. 28, Eastern held a pep rally in the gym, where donations were taken at the door. University photographer Tom Hurlbut hosted a family portrait day on Oct. 15, with proceeds going towards the Hurricane Relief Fund. Several Eastern student clubs held fundraisers, including FEMALES, the Environmental Club, the Gamers Guild and others. In addition, the Campus Lantern made a very generous donation. An online giving form has been created for the Eastern website, with donors being able to designate where their donation is going (website here).

The ECSU Foundation is serving as the conduit for all University-sanctioned fundraising efforts in support of hurricane relief, and augmenting whatever funds are raised with its own donation. Though it will take years to rebuild the communities that were affected, there will be many opportunities in the near future to provide support, including volunteering to travel to Texas, Florida, Mexico, and even the Caribbean to rebuild homes and other facilities.